Crime not only on our doorstep – it’s inside

2011-09-10 09:38

It has taken us years to figure out, but at least we know now: the people we should be most scared of are not strangers, but our family, friends and acquaintances.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation contained in this week’s crime statistics was the police’s announcement that the majority of violent crimes – including murder, rape and assault – ­occur between people who know each other.

This debunks the widely held myth that South Africa’s streets are filled with strangers, lurking behind walls, bushes and trees – ready to pounce on their innocent victims.

They are there, but they are not the majority of our criminals. The truth is more ghastly: the ­majority of criminals are fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, friends, neighbours and colleagues who rape, murder and assault their own.

This, of course, comes as no surprise to the four children from Pretoria, aged between four and 15, who were subjected to the most degrading forms of sexual abuse by their grandparents, ­uncles and aunts who forced them to perform pornographic acts on video and sold it on DVD.

If six-year old Zezepo Mokapa from Kagiso was still alive, she too would not have been shocked by this week’s revelations. She was raped and killed by the 44-year-old uncle of the friend she came to visit.

After raping her, Abram Melato tied a rope around Zezepo’s neck and hanged her from his cupboard. Later, he threw her body over a church wall in the rain, where animals gnawed on her toes and fingers.

If we choose to ignore this week’s unequivocal message by the police, it is at our own peril.

It won’t solve our bigger problem.

Because these criminals are our criminals with whom we live, work and socialise.

Their deeds are the symptoms of other societal ills, whether it be alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment, poverty or the lack of psychological support.

Crime is not the police’s problem alone. If we accept that, we can win this war.

The ministers of health and social development are hard at work investigating the causes of crime. Their efforts, and that of the police, should be applauded and supported by everyone who wants to live in a peaceful land.

» The elephant in the room at Thursday’s crime figures release were the findings of the public ­protector against police chief Bheki Cele.

Also this week, trade union Nehawu called for the sacking of Special Investigating Unit boss Willie Hofmeyr for his alleged failure to transform the unit.

President Jacob Zuma should clear them or fire them, if they did something wrong. South Africa cannot afford individuals with tainted reputations to lead the fight against crime.

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