‘Crime is like racism: it must be stopped’

CityPress - - News - CAI­PHUS KGOSANA cai­phus.kgosana@city­press.co.za

South Africans must ex­pose and os­tracise crim­i­nals, and make them as ab­hor­rent as racists, says Deputy Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Min­is­ter Tha­bang Mak­wetla.

He also be­lieves there isn’t enough po­lit­i­cal will to make crim­i­nal­ity the coun­try’s num­ber one en­emy.

“You can’t have peo­ple en­joy­ing life and say they must en­joy free­dom when they are bar­ri­caded be­hind high walls, their stress lev­els are high, ba­bies are killed be­cause of guns fired in all di­rec­tions,” he said in an in­ter­view with City Press.

“And we say we have got a bet­ter life? No, it’s not a bet­ter life.”

Mak­wetla said neigh­bour­ing coun­tries that un­der­went sim­i­lar na­tional lib­er­a­tion strug­gles had man­aged to con­tain crim­i­nal­ity.

South Africa should have fol­lowed their ex­am­ples, he said, but a lack of po­lit­i­cal will af­ter 1994 had re­sulted in an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in crime.

“Crime is anti-peo­ple, it’s anti-progress, it’s coun­ter­rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But have we politi­cised crime enough as a lead­er­ship in charge of change in this coun­try?

“My hum­ble and hon­est view is that we have not done well enough in that re­spect.”

His words are bound to res­onate with many South Africans who have been left reel­ing af­ter a se­ries of bru­tal crimes against chil­dren in re­cent weeks.

These in­clude the death in Reiger Park near Boks­burg of four-year-old Tae­grin Mor­ris, who was dragged be­hind the wheel of his par­ents’ hi­jacked car, and the death in hos­pi­tal on Fri­day of three-year-old Luke Tib­betts, who was shot while gangs ex­changed fire in West­bury, Joburg.

“Crime is as bad and as ab­hor­rent an en­emy as all of those things the apartheid sys­tem was do­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties,” Mak­wetla said.

“It’s just as de­struc­tive as all of those things that were hap­pen­ing un­der apartheid. The lev­els of in­tol­er­ance to crim­i­nals have to be height­ened as a mat­ter of po­lit­i­cal obli­ga­tion. Just as we ab­hor racism in South Africa, that’s what we should have done to crime.”

But he said over­crowded jails did not mean the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem was fail­ing. In­stead, this was a sign of suc­cess.

“You can’t blame those things on the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. It is a so­ci­etal prob­lem that ac­counts for the high prison pop­u­la­tion and over­crowd­ing. The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem would be fail­ing if all of these things were hap­pen­ing and peo­ple were not end­ing up in jail.”

He said his de­part­ment was try­ing to deal with over­crowd­ing and cor­rup­tion in pris­ons by work­ing with courts to limit the num­ber of de­tainees re­manded af­ter ap­pear­ing in court.

Officials are also seek­ing forms of restora­tive jus­tice rather than in­car­cer­a­tion for non-vi­o­lent of­fend­ers and work­ing on man­ag­ing the pa­role sys­tem bet­ter.

He said the de­part­ment was also com­pil­ing com­pre­hen­sive de­tails of thou­sands of vic­tims of crime so they could be in­cluded in the process when those who might have harmed them ap­ply for pa­role.

Tha­bang Mak­wetla

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.