Hope: New way to fight crime

2008-06-06 00:00

We’ve got to physically get on the street and take back our communities. That is the message from marketing guru Justin Foxton, who is driving the “Stop Crime — Say Hello” campaign that is being rolled out across the country.

Foxton, who returned to South Africa last year from London where he was running his own business, believes that communication and the restoration of respect for others is instrumental to stemming violent crime.

Although it might be impossible to wipe out crime, it could be possible to wipe out the need to hurt victims, he said.

“Wherever I go, I encounter a bubble of anger, bitterness and frustration. We haven’t been taught how to burst it. After 1994, we had a reconciled nation. It was a fait accompli — but nothing really changed.

“I can’t believe that I can sit around the dinner talking to [a group] of people and not one has a single solution. All they can do is point fingers. I have tried to give them a simple tool. This is very direct. It is a very sticky message. People understand it and respond very quickly.”

A long-distance runner, Foxton got the idea for the campaign during a sunset run near the Kruger National Park. He began greeting people who were returning home. “There was a tangible degree of shock and then an immediate warming. All of a sudden, I found I was having conversations over my shoulder. I really was playing a little part in bridging a gap.”

He wondered what would happen if he ran every road in South Africa, greeting as many people as possible. He started researching and found there is a proven link between good community relations and a drop in crime. He looked at New York and Singapore where major problems were eradicated by solving small things. Then he launched his campaign in January.

He will run the Comrades to raise money to fund his youth campaign — a year-long competition pitting school against school in creating community projects.

His website is www.sayhello.co.za.

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