Crime in South Africa
IT’S A CRIME
These stories are all in today’s edition of The Sowetan newspaper. A serial killer is dumping bodies in a sugar cane plantation in Kaw-Zulu Natal, a girl was killed by a stray bullet while lying in her bed, a suspected burglar was shot and injured after a high-speed chase in Pretoria, in Soweto three men suspecting of holding up a supermarket were shot dead by the police, further south in Durban a security guard was killed during heist on a bank van (one has just driven past us and looks like a steel box) in the Eastern Cape a man has been arrested for raping his girlfriend, a Durban women has been arrested for having body parts in her possession, a charity in central Johannesburg has said so many of its staff are being mugged it’s difficult to recruit volunteers, details are emerging of a Joburg man who was stabbed many times ad died when he went to check on a noise outside his house, a domestic row turned to murder in KZN leaving a wife dead.
Then if you pick up The Star newspaper the headline reads ...’Shot for 5 Rand’. If I opened up the paper I could go on...
There’s a standard argument that I have whenever I visit South Africa as a journalist. At some point we describe the crime that we’re either seeing, experiencing or reading about, and a South African will take issue with us. It happened last time WHYS came to town when a guy from Soweto accused us trying to exaggerate the crime problem here. With a very sad irony, the person who put the argument most eloquently was the brilliant Jozi FM reporter Jabu Mlangeni who helped us a great deal during our last trip here and was murdered as he walked home a few weeks after we said goodbye.
CRIME EXISTS ELSEWHERE
His point was this. Yes SA has crime but so do many other countries and they don’t have to continually answer to accusations of a crime problem. Look at London he said to me – I read all the time about the murders there. Also, seen in the context of apartheid the direction crime rates are going, it’s not so much a problem, as a problem being solved.
I don’t know it if matters if we describe SA’s crime rates as a problem. And clearly listing stories in newspapers
proves nothing. But the violence in South African society is undeniable and when you read it detailed day after day in the local press, it makes sobering reading.