A con­certed ef­fort is needed to beat crime

The Sunday Independent - - Leader -

THAT South Africa has al­ways had a crime cri­sis is a well-known fact. The sta­tis­tics speak for them­selves. En­trenched in the dark days of apartheid with il­le­git­i­mate laws en­cour­ag­ing law­less­ness, the so­cial ills that still force hordes of young peo­ple, mostly men, into a life of crime were, sadly, not jet­ti­soned with the apartheid laws in 1994.

Poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity con­tin­ued to fuel crime.

And th­ese old mal­adies have wors­ened in re­cent years. The shocking lev­els of crime we see to­day can­not be as­cribed solely to the pre­vail­ing so­cio-eco­nomic si­t­u­a­tion.

The lead­er­ship prob­lems of the re­cent past were clearly an­other key cat­a­lyst. While there have been slight changes in the crime sta­tis­tics recorded by the po­lice and pre­sented by po­lice min­is­ters an­nu­ally, the scourge of crime has stub­bornly re­mained a part of life in South Africa for decades.

To quote one statis­tic, it is es­ti­mated that one per­son is mur­dered ev­ery hal­fan-hour in our coun­try.

So how should we in­ter­pret the shocking events of this week when a rou­tine fam­ily ex­er­cise like a school run ends in bloody may­hem? Clearly, the lead­er­ship crises of the past two decades or so have taken their toll on the SAPS and its abil­ity to serve and pro­tect.

We are reap­ing the fruits of years of lead­er­ship in­sta­bil­ity re­lated to po­lit­i­cal wars.

The re­cent ap­point­ments of Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele, Na­tional Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khehla Si­tole and other top brass should give long-suf­fer­ing ci­ti­zens some hope.

It marks a new be­gin­ning for the po­lice ser­vice and a re­newed crime fight, a “re­turn to ba­sics”, as Cele puts it. Ex­perts point out that the war on crime can­not be left solely to the po­lice. It re­quires a multi-dis­ci­plinary ap­proach and ac­tive com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Fol­low­ing nine-year-old Sa­dia Sukhraj’s killing, Chatsworth (Dur­ban) res­i­dents were jus­ti­fied in tak­ing to the streets to ex­press their anger. How­ever, the anger and en­ergy could have been bet­ter chan­nelled.

To win the many bat­tles and fi­nally the war against crime, Chatsworth and other com­mu­ni­ties across South Africa need to push back in con­certed ac­tion. The ad­jec­tive “con­certed” is de­fined as “ar­ranged by mu­tual agree­ment, agreed upon, pre-ar­ranged, planned, con­trived and done in con­cert”.

This is how we need to re­spond to crime. We need to act in con­cert with all stake­hold­ers and fol­low­ing agreed plans – or we could end up with more chaos.

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