How to survive a zombie apocalypse – SA style

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today I have a very special treat for you. We have Lily Herne, the author of Deadlands, paying us a visit. Here’s her guide to surviving a zombie apocolypse – SA style:

I think we’re in all in agreement that one day there will be a zombie apocalypse.

And while there are countless websites dedicated to helping you survive this eventuality, there aren’t any specifically designed for your average urban South African. Fortunately, as someone with way too much time her hands, I’ve compiled a list of handy tips that should, if followed to the letter, help you survive a zombie apocalypse SA style.

1: Don’t panic.

The suburbs are crawling with shambling brain-dead idiots, people are dying in unimaginably horrible ways up and down the country and it’s only a matter of days before the electricity shuts off for good.

It’s life as we know it, but what are you going to do when our overcrowded morgues start emptying – of their own accord?

Don’t be tempted to take advantage of the situation and race to Incredible Connection to loot an HD decoder – if you want to get through this without losing your brain, you need to keep cool.

2: Do not go to the Karoo

The first thing you’re probably tempted to do is steal a minibus taxi, flee to the Karoo, stake a place on a self-sufficient smallholding run by a paranoid eco-warrior, and wait it out. After all, it’s the most under-populated area of the country, right?


Do not go to the Karoo.

Everyone from Khayelitsha to Kimberley will have the same idea and within hours of the city morgues’ inhabitants coming to life, Nieu Bethesda will resemble the parking lot after the U2 concert (albeit with less self-righteousness.) It’s zombie mayhem waiting to happen.

If you live in the Karoo, get the hell out.

3: Sentiment is your enemy

Unless you own an AK47, leave all your personal belongings behind, and if you have to take your friends or family members with you, choose wisely; take only the ones you absolutely cannot do without.

4: Head straight to the mall

Put Dawn of the Dead out of your mind (that’s just a movie, this is REAL LIFE) and head for your nearest shopping mall. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion in Bishopscourt or an informal settlement – you’ll know the shortest route there. If you’re in Durbs head for the Gateway; if you’re a Joburg resident, lucky you, you’re probably at the mall already and reading this on your iPhone; if you live in Cape Town, your best bet is Canal Walk or Cavendish. If you’re in Bloemfontein, you probably haven’t noticed the apocalypse has even happened, so as you were.

But why the mall? Why not just take over one of those gated communities with razor wire, mercenaries and a whirlpool? Think about it, once behind the fibrecrete walls of a faux-Tuscan monolith you’ll be trapped, and when your undead host’s supply of cashew nuts and margarita mix has run dry, you’ll be forced to eat their genetically engineered pets, and no one wants that. Your local mall’s hypermarket has an endless supply of irradiated fruit that will never deteriorate, not to mention towering stacks of box wine and biltong-flavoured Pringles.

Electricity is another reason to ditch the suburbs in favour of the mall. Thanks to Eskom, every mall is super-equipped for a power outage with generators for every occasion. However, you will be facing a lot of long nights ahead where the only thing between you and terminal boredom is playing Guitar Hero at the Game store, and the last thing you want to do is run out of fuel. En route to your mall of choice, hijack a petrol tanker, crash it through the barriers and park it in the underground parking lot.

5: Secure the exits

You’ve made it to the mall. Now you have to secure the exits. Get other people to do this for you. That way if there are any leaks, it’s not your fault. Plus, it’s dangerous and you probably forgot to bring your AK.

6: Weed out the whingers

Ubuntu is all very well, but you don’t want to be stuck for months with whinging companions as this can make for an irritating apocalypse experience. After all, one of the benefits of an undead society is the lack of small talk you’ll have to endure.

But as appearances can be deceptive, how do you know which of your fellow survivors will end up being the equivalent of the rugby fanatic at a braai?

Easy. Set up a meet ‘n greet cocktail party or launch-style situation in the food court, possibly at the Spur Steak Ranch or Simply Asia restaurant. Mingle and eavesdrop. Isolate anyone who looks over your shoulder scoping for someone more interesting to talk to, and try and identify and corral the following:






Right wing fundamentalists of any religion

Anyone involved in the film industry






Bikini waxers

Reiki practitioners


Anyone who looks like they might be tempted to organise a sing-a-long

Zef rappers


Insurance and medical aid salespeople

Lawyers and accountants

Bigots, sexists and racists

Anyone in middle management.

Anyone who uses the word ‘paradigm’.

Anyone who has a Facebook or Twitter profile

Bribe the other survivors with Jägermeister shots and get them to herd the above to the McDonalds play area. Lock the whingers into the ball pit with a year’s supply of Amarula and Pringles. Problem solved. They’re happy, you’re happy.

7: There’s always one, isn’t there?

Like the idiot who always has twenty items in their basket in the 10 Items Only supermarket queue, there’s always one moron in the crowd. And in any apocalypse situation that someone will be concealing a zombie bite, a ticking clock of zombie infectedness that will put a total downer on everyone else’s looting.

Keep a close eye out for anyone showing signs of drooling, moaning, lurching, incontinence or pedantry (if you haven’t yet weeded out the celebs, this could cause confusion).

8: Patience is your friend.

Congratulations! You’re secure, you’ve staked a comfy spot in Dial a Bed and you’ve stashed a month’s personal supply of Lindt chocolate in a place no one will ever find it (the African books section at your mall’s bookstore). Now’s the time to do what you’ve been putting off for years – watching The Wire box set – while you wait for rescue. But what if it never comes? What if the emergency services are also holed up in their own malls?

Don’t be tempted to leave just yet. Move onto Mad Men and The Sopranos. Re-watch Buffy, Spaced, Firefly and Fringe. Read all those books you’ve always pretended you’ve actually read: the Russian classics, Disgrace. Learn another indigenous language. Take up bridge and stick fighting. There’s lots of fun stuff to do in malls when you don’t have to pay for it. Especially if there’s a Game store, Liquorland or Clicks pharmaceutical outlet.

9: Head to the Karoo

Months have passed. Your fellow survivors have turned into gibbering stir-crazy idiots who mooch around the aisles dressed in HipHop corsets, waving Carrol Boyes cutlery and yelling Jack Parow lyrics; you’ve read your way through the Exclusive Books sale table; you never want to see another sliver of shrink-wrapped kudu biltong and you’ve even resorted to repeat viewings of Sex and the City 2.

It’s time to leave.

Jumpstart the tanker you cleverly parked in the underground parking lot and get moving. Using the back roads, head for the platteland.

I know this is a contradiction to earlier advice, but think about it. While you’ve been safely holed up in Canal Walk or Highgate Mall, everyone who initially fled to the Karoo has been stuck in a ten-kilometre pile-up on the N1 – providing a free-for-all brain braai for the undead.

10: Look on the bright side

I know it’s hard. You’ve missed the finale of American Idol and you’ve had to use every ‘look-the-other-way-and-pretend-it-isn’t-happening’ resource to survive. (If you’re a wealthy suburbanite you’ve had plenty of practice). But look on the bright side: For once, SA is the place you want to be – there’s no other country in the world more equipped to handle a zombie apocalypse. After all, we’ve got an overabundance of generators, biltong, illegal Russian weapons and a super climate.

So sit back and enjoy several years of carefree alpaca or cannabis farming, while enjoying the cheering thought of the golf estates being taken over by legions of meerkats.

And, best of all, you’ll never have to watch Survivor: South Africa ever again.

Thanks Lily for joining us and for that very useful “how-to” lesson.

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Deadlands, you can get it at, Exclusive Books, and Take2.

Here’s a fantastic review of Deadlands by Dave Brandon.

I hope you enjoyed that, I know I did. Misbehave horribly!

6 thoughts on “How to survive a zombie apocalypse – SA style

  1. Brilliant post! Absolutely hilarious and great reading. I feel so well informed now for if and when an attack occurs.

  2. Pingback: Author of Deadlands, Lily Herne, tells us how to survive a zombie apocalypse. | Penguin Books Blog

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