Beating crime in SA will require a collective effort

Police Minister Bheki Cele speaks to residents of Philippi East. Cele visited the area to meet with community members after several shooting incidents in the area claimed 13 lives over the past weekend, 8 July 2019. Picture: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele speaks to residents of Philippi East. Cele visited the area to meet with community members after several shooting incidents in the area claimed 13 lives over the past weekend, 8 July 2019. Picture: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

The way that our criminal justice processes work is geared towards dealing with the results of crime, rather than the fundamental causes of it.

There is one thing at which the ANC’s leaders have proven adept – selling a glorious and unattainable dream. 

Cyril Ramaphosa did it recently with his fantasy about a high-speed train whisking people from Joburg to Polokwane – all while the current passenger rail system is a crumbling, dangerous, expensive mess. 

Bheki Cele certainly sounded yesterday – in an interview on 702 – as if he was dishing out the same sort of “pie in the sky” as his boss, with his assertion that the country’s horrific crime rate can be halved in 10 years. 

That was the day after he had presented crime statistics to parliament, which showed that most major and violent crimes have increased and that, effectively, SA is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. 

However, though the goal may at first seem way beyond reach, experts we spoke to believe that, with the right commitment and resources, it can be achieved. 

The experts agreed that reducing crime is not a job for the police alone. The system as it stands needs a complete overhaul. The way that our criminal justice processes work is geared towards dealing with the results of crime, rather than the fundamental causes of it. 

Many of the reasons for crime are socio-economic in nature. 

While we still have a huge gap in wealth in this country, people will always be envious … and angry because they feel excluded. 

But we must also tackle the inescapable reality that we are a naturally violent country – because the brutal nature of crime here is not seen in other countries where there is a huge disparity between rich and poor. 

Our attitudes to women are in the same vein – we are a nation of abusers. 

Exorcising those demons is going to need an effort from all of us.

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