Kgomotso Matsunyane

Diepkloof, we've got a problem

2008-08-14 08:22

Kgomotso Matsunyane

Crime. A small word, with such devastating consequences.

So about a month ago our production manager takes a call and collapses into sobs as she is listening to a telephone conversation that informs her that a good friend of hers was shot three times in her home by burglars the previous night.

A couple of weeks go by. Another member of our staff gets a phone call. Her father has been shot and her mother tied up on their farm. Her mother is (physically) unharmed, but her father is in a critical state in hospital, she has to leave urgently. Her partner is also working for us, so when we lose one person on the team it actually means losing two people.

A few days go by, and another friend was abducted at gun point by three men in a car while waiting for a bus to work, taken to a house, is raped by all three fiends and is released afterwards.

Two days ago, another friend's father was killed and he was found stabbed several times in his home.

Diepkloof, we've got a (serious) problem.

State of the Nation

So far I've been a very fortunate member of our public as I've only suffered from minor and petty crime. I've had two cars (reconditioned 70s beetles, mind you) stolen from me, but even then I was not in the car or in the vicinity of my repossessors, so I've never, ever, had any dangerous, foreign objects pointed to me as my possessions are stripped away from me.

Somewhere in between tweedle-dee threatening to die or kill for someone, while tweedle-dum just twiddles his fingers and observes all protocall. For every Monday that I start with some mantra or another about this week bringing better and bigger things, I'm stopped in my tracks by a most frightening reality, like our police service shooting at our other police service in the streets, in broad daylight. Bathong!

It doesn't take much to figure out that South Africans as a people and as a nation are under siege, and we are hopelessly and justifiably depressed. I'm watching in awe as one friend after another pack their bags for one or another of other shores that promise a "safer" future.

I'm also watching as new friends from outside of South Africa are unpacking their bags as they learn how to survive in their new adopted country.

To date, our elected leaders refuse to deal with the crime issue with the seriousness that it deserves. "Shoot to kill" is a stupid non-plan for combating crime; it appeals to our sense of frustration, but it is hardly a solution.

If I Ruled the World

I grew up in Soweto to a mother who was a nurse, so I'm quite used to midnight knocks to help out neighbours in trouble. And let it be reiterated that the vast majority of the victims of crime in this country are black and living in townships. We're all affected, but the poorer people are really the most vulnerable to this plague.

Personally, if I was a leader of this abused, battered, and recovering nation; if I was the impending host of a sports event that will be the deciding benchmark that will determine how my country's true character will be branded internationally; if I was the world beacon for a reconciliatory, forward thinking nation... I would make crime a top priority.

Of course there are other mitigating factors that contribute to our high crime rate, including poverty. There are many countries that are far poorer than we are and whose economies and mineral wealth are well below ours, and yet they don't have nearly the astronomic figures of brutality that many of crimes come with.

Too few of us have actually read or engaged with the lauded constitution of our country, but clearly, that document is not worth the paper is written on if every Tom, Dick, Harry or Thabo is incapable of reading, deciphering, interpreting and ultimately respecting the rights of others to our intended lives as protected in the constitution. Freedom means absolutely nothing if we continue to live in fear.

Our upcoming elections are possibly the most pertinent and relevant elections we are yet to have. In a perfect world, I would wish for us to actually vote for the individual candidate of our chosen party, but that's the not the system we chose, so it's a non-option at this stage.

I actually have no idea who I am going to vote for next year. Things are not as obvious as they seemed to me before. Whoever gets my vote, will have to work damn hard at getting it.

  • Kgomotso Matsunyane is a voter, writer, producer and partner at T.O.M. Pictures, a film and TV company based in Jo'burg.

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