I was at a dinner party the other night and as discussions tend to do in South Africa, the conversation inevitably led to crime. My circle of friends all ventured an opinion on it.
“Crime is out of hand” said Daniel.
“The government needs to do something about it” agreed Emily
“South Africa is a lawless country” my host, Nate, added.
“This country is going to the dogs and whites are f****ed!” raged my blind date, Johan. (I don’t think there’s going to be a second date)
I sat, twirling my wine glass, listening to all of this in silence before asking what I thought was a perfectly innocent question.
“Erm, Daniel” I began, “Is your pirated DVD collection included in the crime that is out of hand”?
He looked at me indignantly before countering with “WTF? That’s not the same thing!” and because he was so aggressive (and because I fancy him somewhat) I swiftly changed the subject but this got me thinking.
Do we, as South Africans who constantly moan about the state of crime…do we not contribute to the lawlessness?
We get around with driver’s licenses that we bought, we stop on street corners to buy stolen goods and pirated DVD’s, we lie on our tax returns, we go to gym with iPods filled with illegal mp3’s , we download movies and entire TV series on the internet and as for traffic laws? Forget about it.
Okay, obviously not all South Africans behave like this. Some of us do adhere to traffic laws, don’t download illegal movies (mostly because we don’t have the bandwidth) and are too scared to lie on our tax returns. The average South African probably doesn’t want to commit a crime, I’d like to think of us all as basically good human beings so why is crime so rampant? I’m not referring to the hijackings, murders, robberies and blue-collar fraud that goes around but these little, almost inconsequential crimes that people get away with every day. When your child tells you that they need a pen for school, do you tell them that you’ll buy one from the shop or that you’ll bring one from the office? When you need paper for your home printer, do you run to the shops or take a ream from the office supplies? With some people it doesn’t stop there, the thought being ‘If I can get away with stealing paper, surely I can take the petty cash?” and then, ‘If I can take the petty cash, who’s going to notice if I steal a customer’s payment..…or two?” I’m not an expert on criminology but I would expect crime to escalate according to what people get away with. From a cell-phone to a hand-bag to a car? Who knows? Again, I’m no expert so this is just an opinion.
Basically, it boils down to knowing the difference between right and wrong. There is the opinion that poverty contributes to crime and, yes, okay, if I am hungry I would probably be compelled to shoplift or steal money to feed my children but that isn’t really what this article is about. I’m talking about middle-class people who live fairly comfortable lives and feel the need to bang on about the rampant crime in South Africa while actually commiting crimes themselves.
If you’re contributing to the lawlessness you have no right to complain about it. A crime-free South Africa begins with each and every one of us.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.