In reference to the article published on your site whereby the honorable minister of Science and Technology Naledo Pandor calls for South Africans to exhibit tolerance at the highest level possible. The comments that followed on this article yet again shows the current discourse and animosity Joe Public has towards the government. It also showed the obvious widening divide South Africa still experiences along racial lines; this however will be a discussion for another time. I would like to focus on crime, specifically violent crimes in South Africa.
Violent crime in South Africa, as we all know, has spiraled completely out control. According to the last statistics released by the South African police, 15940 cases of murder was reported between March 2010 and April 2011. Looking at these statistics, I cannot help but ask why do we have such high violent crime rates? I do not profess to have the answer to this and I do not believe anyone person has the answer to completely halt this trend. I do however have a few opinions, as does everyone else, on what may be contributing factors to these statistics.
Ask anyone on the streets of South Africa and you realise that South Africans in general have ambivalent attitudes towards the law in South Africa. This in my opinion can be ascribed to the weakness of the criminal justice system in dealing with crime and lack of investment in crime-prevention projects that form part of the criminal justice system. While we all know the government is failing dismally in their part to combat violent crimes in South Africa, simply replacing them will not wholly solve this problem we are facing. While I will not argue that a step like this might (and I use this term lightly) improve the current statistics, I do not see this creating a dramatic improvement at all.
A government who refuses to be joined at the hip with Joe Citizen will never know his plight and his needs. Therefore any government, be it current or future, has to solve key social problems within communities in order to address violent crime in the country. Most perpetrators of violent crimes exhibit low self-esteem or other specific types of psychological pathologies or dispositions. The prevalence of these could be linked to factors such as family dysfunctionality (in terms of the levels of previous exposure to violence), the broad normalization of violence in society as well as high levels of poverty. I am therefore of the opinion that in order for government, whether it be current or future government, to reduce the current levels of violent crime in South Africa, they first need to resolve the basic issue of poverty alleviation.
You also then have the group dynamics (or peer pressure) and the susceptibility to this on the part of individuals who are led to believe that this country, and therefore everything in it, belongs to them by no means assists in creating a less violent country. It in fact contributes and fans the flames of violence which engulfs South Africa. Creating a sense of entitlement within any group of people, ultimately leads to said group of people believing that their acts are not acts of crime or wrong doing, but their God given right.
As citizens, we fail to realize our true strength in turning the tide against violent crime in South Africa. In a recent study primary school children openly admitted to committing rape, some even going as far admitting committing gang rape and referring to it as “exciting”. Surely the parents of these children should also be looked at? The sanctity of human life, regardless of ethnicity, religious believe or sexual orientation should be a value taught by the parents. It is our duty, we can break the cycle. Even on murder is one murder to many. The focus should not be placed on single incident, but the 15940 incidents where a life was taken during the period mentioned above. Crime has no race nor does it have a color, we are all affected, whether directly or indirectly and should therefore be united as country in condemning acts such as these.
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