Long before the crime statistics were released on Thursday, South Africans already knew that we had a deep crisis of crime. The country almost came to a standstill as criminal acts were committed under the name of xenophobia for the past three weeks.
Violence against women and children was reaching its peak. Anecdotally, it was clear that the country was under siege.
What the stats did on Thursday was just a confirmation of what people feel and experience on a daily basis.
For a country not at war, 21 000 murders in a year is hard to make sense of. Some of the comparisons were that more people died here in the past 12 months than in Syria in the same period. Syria is a completely dysfunctional state and what is left is just a relic of a state that once was. This is as a result of months of bombardment by the Syrian government, rebel forces, the Russians, Israel and many other competing forces South Africa is supposed to be a functional state.
According to the statistics released in Parliament on Thursday, there were 21 022 murders, up by 686 from the previous financial year. What is more alarming is the number of sexual offences committed in this period – 52 420 – another drastic increase in reported crimes, up 4.6% from last year. We should remember that these were the numbers that were recorded. Many sexual offences are not reported as many victims are scared of coming out into the open.
What kind of a society are we if more than 700 – 736 to be exact – children are accused of murder?
According to the stats, 60% of all murders in the country took place on a weekend between 9pm and 3am. The police said that this was probably linked to alcohol and drug abuse, which ramps up at the weekend.
The police repeatedly assure us that they have a plan to bring crime under control. Yet the assurance is in stark contrast to what we see and experience every day.
Yes, we should all do our bit as individuals to contribute to the fight against crime. But we have to ask: What is the point of government if not to protect its citizens?
We simply can’t go on like this.
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