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What am I missing here? Why so many home invasions instead of just robbing empty houses?

If it were me, I think I’d choose starting over in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Canada, or the US, even if it meant being poor, over living with the deteriorating situation in SA. Your ancestors had deep roots back in the Netherlands or UK but elected to start over in SA once upon a time because they thought it offered them a better future than not leaving. I know it is not easy to be an immigrant, but the children of all of the European immigrants that I have known, whether the kids were born here or came over as kids, quickly became mainstream Americans. The adult immigrants sometimes had to take a step backwards in their careers before moving forward due to lack of transferable education or limited English skills but they all did OK once they got through an adjustment period.