Crime levels in South Africa are "tantamount to a national crisis"

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Siphiwe Nzimande, CEO of business against crime, speaking at the convention, “Action for a safe South Africa”, says our country is currently experiencing high levels of violence and brutality, which is among the highest in the world. More than 50 people are murdered everyday and more than100 woman raped daily.

Nzimande notes that the causes of the high levels of brutality are complex, but among the chief causes are; the decay of moral values in our society and a general decline in respect for the law. Offenders believe they will not be caught or prosecuted.

When analyzing statistics another possible cause comes to light. Nzimande says; “80% of reported crime do not reach the courts mostly due to corruption”.

Incarceration does not seem to act as a deterrent for criminals anymore. Many believe it simply isn’t effective. Crime syndicates when incarcerated still operate business as usual even though they are behind bars.

Nzimande believes that “South Africa is now well poised to improve the situation. Our efforts in support of Government will make a difference”.

Jody Kollapen chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission believes “violence has become our indigenous language”. We are living isolated lives behind our high walls and barbered wires. With higher crime rates Government is spending more each year, yet we still feel unsafe. “The more we spend on security the more unsafe we feel”. Kollapen believes that the most important spending on behalf of Government would be that of prevention, notably ridding dysfunctional behavior from society.

Wendy Luhabe business leader and entrepreneur mention that “action begins with each one of us taking a stand on all evils in society.” The idea that “what’s going on is not my problem” is an illusion. Ultimately it is the responsibility of each one of us to act. Luhabe is of the opinion that each one of us is responsible to act. Crime and violence has severely dented the image of South Africa both locally and abroad. “Crime is shaking the very foundation of our new democracy.” South Africans need to adopt a new language of passion and tolerance.

“Our rainbow nation has been assaulted but we haven’t lost the battle unless we don’t act,” Ms Luhabe said

There seems to be a combined voice of Action! Action! Action! According to Desmond Dube South African television personality and organizer of the Million Man March against crime. “We need to unite before we take action. This exercise needs not be an academic one.”

Barbara Holtman crime prevention researcher admits that the place we want to live in is no longer South Africa, because of the high levels of violent crime. Based on research presented by Holtman, men in South Africa are eight times more likely to die of non natural causes as compared to the world standard, woman six times more likely and children are five times more likely to die of non natural causes because of the unprecedented levels of brutal crime currently experienced in South Africa.

Holtman revealed that South Africans spend R46 billion every year on private security. However on closer analysis it was revealed that private security cannot reduce crime, it cannot keep us safe either, it only makes the problem worse and forces criminals to come heavily armed and in groups instead. Government plans to introduce 60 000 additional police in the South African Police Services by 2010, but this, according to Holtman, is not the solution to the high crime rates. “The Focus needs to shift to prevention rather than enforcement.”

We cannot wait for Government to react. It is every South African’s responsibility to act upon this wickedness that has engulfed our society. By keeping quiet we become accomplices to the crime. We all can make a difference by not keeping quiet. Negative sentiment in society is not going to help improve the situation. As Minister of Social Development Zola Skweyiya says: “Only by acknowledging crime can we make a difference. These are times of danger but also times of creativity.” Therefore action cannot be delayed.

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