Editorial | Where did we go wrong?

A mass funeral for 21 victims of Scenery Park  tarven tragedy is underway in East London. Photo: Siphokazi Totyi
A mass funeral for 21 victims of Scenery Park tarven tragedy is underway in East London. Photo: Siphokazi Totyi


On Friday, while we were still trying to make sense of the senseless killing of 21 individuals in several taverns across the country last weekend, we woke up to news that six people had been shot and killed in Alexandra overnight. In two days, eight people had been shot and killed in this old Johannesburg township.

Again, we are left to wonder why. Who is doing this and why are they doing it?

South Africa has long had high crime levels, but of most concern is the violence that accompanies said crime – most of it wanton and brutal.

The individuals perpetrating these crimes are also brazen, seemingly confident that they will get away with their deeds. And, based on the evidence of the past week, they do indeed get away with it.

READ: Watch | Family members and community pay last respect to Soweto tavern victims

No one has been arrested for any of the killings in Soweto, Katlehong or Pietermaritzburg either. What we have witnessed by way of law enforcement is a garrulous Police Minister Bheki Cele pitching up after the incidents to make stupid remarks that neither comfort the bereaved families nor help in the tracing and arrest of those behind the crimes. In some instances, he deploys police after the fact to project visibility, which would not be there if not for the incidents.

While police cannot be expected to be on every street corner of the country all the time, there is no doubt that criminals do not fear them either. Criminals are not scared of being arrested and paying the price for their deeds. Police officer numbers have increased over the years, but there are still deep questions about their efficiency and competence.

Can the police protect citizens from criminals?

Because police seem to not be making any arrests or interrogating the motives behind the crimes, we cannot even answer the simple question: What is going on?

We need to investigate what makes us such a violent nation. Why are we doing this to each other? How did we lose our humanity and our respect for life?

There is a lot to be said about the prevailing trauma of the violence from the fight against apartheid, but that cannot be the answer. There are individuals committing violent crimes who were born in 1994 and afterwards – they know nothing of the violence of apartheid.

READ: Owner of Enyobeni Tavern and two of his employees arrested

Yes, we deserve a more competent police minister than Cele, a more dedicated and capable police force, and a justice system that puts criminals away for a long time, but we also need to find answers outside of the criminal justice system, answers that will help us raise a generation that is not so quick to resort to violence.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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