Editorial: What is wrong with us?

2018-09-16 10:29

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What is wrong with us? This is the question we should all try to answer as a nation after the release of the crime statistics this week.

According to statistics released by the SA Police Service to Parliament, 20 336 people were killed in South Africa in the past year. That is about 57 people every day. Of these murders, 3 915 were women and children.

“On average, 57 people are murdered a day, which brings us close to a war zone … yet we are not in war,” an exasperated Police Minister Bheki Cele said.

What is unique about South Africa’s murder rate is that a lot of the murders take place between people who are familiar with each other – be it in domestic settings, in places of enjoyment or in work settings.

Just days after the stats were released, it emerged that a 17-year-old Grade 10 pupil fatally stabbed his teacher in a school in North West. Another teacher in Gauteng was threatened by a gun-toting 15-year-old pupil. Many more harrowing criminal stories are part of our news agenda daily.

There are crimes – such as robbery, home invasions and drug peddling – that can be reduced by fixing the criminal justice system. A case in point is the dramatic decrease in cash-in-transit heists once Cele and his top team put their collective shoulder to the wheel. There is a long way to go, but we have hope that better strategies, better management and improved skills will reverse the generally high crime rate.

But our unique murder patterns need more than just an improvement in policing. We cannot expect the police to prevent fights between drinkers at pubs, taverns and shebeens. It would be unfair to expect them to prevent murderous fights at music concerts like the ones that occurred at #FillUpGiyaniStadium recently.

The criminal justice system can apprehend perpetrators, try them and incarcerate them as a means of punishment and determent, but our murder crisis needs more than the law.

We need a societal introspection to find out why we are so quick to descend into violence and why so many normal people find it easy to take the lives of others, especially family, friends and acquaintances. We need to find out what is wrong with us, and fast.

Read more on:    crime

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