A concerted effort is needed to beat crime
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.