Durban is hurting. South Africa is hurting. The news isn’t surprising these days. robbery, mugging, hijacking, farm attacks, rape, and murder. These are words that become as common as milk and sugar. They shouldn’t be, yet they are. Sometimes it’s too much to watch the news or listen to the radio. However, when crime and chaos encroach on your community, your neighborhood, and it affects your friends or family, you start to question how much of an effort your government is making to finding solutions to this problem. Are there laws that could be in place to stop this? Would such laws even be effective in stopping this? What is the correct course of action?
Andreas Mathios, a Blue Security community and media liaison officer spoke with the IOL and Independent Media. He gave a series of recommendations for residents and people to follow in order to stay safe. While what he said was not unwarranted, it just makes you question what kind of life you are living when you can’t even leave your house to go get groceries, visit your relatives, or even go to the cinemas. The statement, “Never sit in your car or stand around outside chatting next to your vehicle as this makes you a prime target for robbers and hijackers.” How are our children, nephews, nieces, and parents going to live like this? We have worry for all of them. Are we really going to rethink when to call or SMS someone now? That very same call or message could be the event that causes them to misstep or make the wrong decision and put themselves in danger.
Although I live so far away from Durban I have family and friends who are still there. It is affecting them directly and by that close association, it affects me. In Durban we are still connected. It’s like a giant family. Maybe it’s the Indian in us, but at the same time, in South Africa, everyone is called Uncle and Auntie regardless of their blood relation to you. We need to stand together and figure out something that needs to be done. Crime has always been bad in SA, but when do we draw the line?
Is this a common occurrence around the world? I would say no. Crime isn’t so rampant and brutal per square kilometer as it is in SA. In the United States, it’s a different issue. Trevor Noah said it best on the Daily Show episode in June 2017 with Philando Castille. Dash cams, cell phones, and evidence is completely disregarded in the U.S. Even when the evidence is overwhelming, juries will sway toward exonerating police officers, who are at fault, but what about the shooting statistics of the U.S? Some critics are quick to point this out, but what they fail to realize is the size comparison of the two countries. The U.S’ populations s nearly six times larger than SA, but we don’t see the gravity of such crimes on a daily basis. Maybe it’s because we are so large, but violent crimes are generally concentrated in certain areas, while in SA, the whole country is in danger.
In SA it’s not the police who are committing most of the crimes. It’s the criminals, but even with high security companies employing trained guards, being equipped with state of the art firearms, and having surveillance equipment, crime still occurs well before any line of defense is there to stop anything from happening.
Does a father need to be murdered in front of his wife and children? Does a random drive-by shooting at 6 in the morning with victims who were getting ready to go to work need to inspire us? Does a 9-year old have to die for us to realize that something needs to be done?
These rhetorical questions serve to awaken the urgency to fix the current state of law and order in SA? What can we do so that there isn’t an incentive to do a crime in the first place? It’s very rare that all of the perpetrators are caught. As a result, the chances of getting away with doing something heinous is high. Some people have been advocating for the return of the death penalty.
Before anyone says that this could be a bad idea, let’s consider something. If the death penalty was in place, there could be serious consequences for someone who attempts or commits murder. This could set a precedent for deterring future crimes. While the police department can only do so much, maybe this could be helpful in stopping heinous crimes from occurring. After all, anyone who has to worry about the death penalty, is attempting to commit murder. While this seems like a step backwards, it could be pivotal step in the right direction. Crime in South Africa has become so unchecked and it has been exponentially increasing in terms of occurrence and brutality. This may be one of the only solid solutions that the country could get behind, before the society turns into some Orwellian dystopia where martial law and the government will have to push society down at the expense of everyone just because of how bad crime is. What are we to do? Would this be a viable solution?
Image taken from Northglen News