On 28 June 2012, my stepdaughter with many others, were victims of violent crime in South Africa.
After taking her toddler son to crèche at 8:30am in Randpark Ridge, Johannesburg, she stopped at a traffic light. Since she smokes her window was slightly open & in an instant an attacker pointed a handgun at her head. She was ordered to turn and park while the gun was pointed at her, she complied. She was told to exit the car and the three armed and glove wearing men stripped her of valuables, pistol whipped her to the back of the head and threw her in the boot of her car, a Ford Figo.
She then was held captive in the boot of her car as the hijackers drove around while ransacking her possessions. Once the bank cards were found she was threatened with her life to give the pin codes which she did and the daily limits were drawn from her accounts. More driving around in terror in the boot, one can only imagine what goes through the mind of a woman alone with 3 armed male perpetrators that had already assaulted and robbed her.
Finally they asked if the car had a tracker installed, she said she didn’t know as it was a hired car and they then abandoned the car. This statement certainly saved her. As soon as they left she opened the parcel shelf, folded the back seatback and found herself at the point on a road where it turned from tar to dirt. Not having any idea where she was she made her way in the direction of the tar and came to a road where she flagged down a truck and the driver made contact so that help in the form of family got to the scene as quickly as possible. Where was she? Along a farm road, just 300 metres from Diepsloot off the R114 near Northern Farm.
We retrieved the vehicle, got her to trauma counselling at a police station where a volunteer was very helpful as was the trauma counsellor, but unfortunately the uniformed police officers could not have cared less.
Today is Saturday, 30 June and she is completely broken from her experience and the sad fact is this family has been hijacked before, an attempted hijack of myself and two passengers in 2000 near Uitenhage, my granddaughter during a driving lesson in 2008 and then her & I two weeks later in an attempted hijacking the day before she took her licence and passed. Both failed attempted hijackings involved high speed chases, I’m grateful to have had advanced tactical driver training. There are more incidences not mentioned, the saddest part of this is that this type of account can be heard in just about any suburban or rural family in South Africa.
The fact is we are, whether or not we recognise it or not, are in a nation where a civil war is being waged by criminals against the rest of the nation and right now they are winning. The victims of crime need to know since we don’t seem to have retaliated, instead correctly believing that the authorities we have appointed through our votes must do the job through the structures of the nation to protect the people. Problem is they haven’t and there is little hope of that changing any time soon.
Taking a look at some statistics:
South Africa has the 3rd highest murder rate in Africa after Angola and Lesotho and only the drug war states of Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela and Columbia have higher murder rates, that makes us the 7th most murderous nation on the planet.
Here is a sample of murder rates written as murders per 100 000 people:
Japan – 0.45
China – 1.21
Australia – 1.23
UK – 1.57
Canada – 1.67
India – 2.77
Palestine – 3.85
USA – 5.22
South Africa – 36.54, unless you are one of our 12000 commercial farmers where the murder rate is 3300 per 100 000, with a death toll of around 3811.
In 2011, there were 142 397 violent crimes reported in South Africa.
15 940 murders, 15492 attempted murders, 14 667 armed robberies of businesses, 16889 armed robberies at homes, 10 627 hijackings, 56 272 rapes in a total of 68 332 sexual offences. (source - Institute for Security Studies)
The Vietnam war took place from 5 August 1964 to 28 March 1973, a total of 8 years & 8 months. The Americans lost 47 359 personnel to hostile deaths and 10 797 personnel in non hostile deaths, a total of 58 156. This is a total of 6710 people per year on average. (Google)
South Africa’s murder rate is therefore 237,6% greater than the average death rate of Americans fighting in the Vietnam war which resulted in a huge protest movement.
So we are at war against crime, like it or not and it seems the authorities are taking a wide berth of their responsibility with police being more of a form filling and reference number providing service for insurance claims rather than law enforcement and the judiciary being ineffective as a deterrent.
Surely this is the big issue that has affected most honest, decent South African citizens of all races and creeds that could unite and engage us to restart the dream of 1994 of a better life for all? It is time for the good people of South Africa to stop doing nothing so that the evil will not prevail, to paraphrase a cliché.
This is a call to hold the authorities accountible and focus to shift to protecting citizens.