Monday, April 12, 2010

Security Expert says, “Crime pays in South Africa!”

The following article was initially published in French at The article was adapted by Samuel Jaberg from in Pretoria. I do not entirely agree with everything said in this article, but I’ve taken the liberty of publishing an interesting feedback-response to this article, because the writer discloses a few rational points, -- worthy of note!

The Main Article...

South Africa’s police struggle to contain crime.

As South Africa gears up for the 2010 football World Cup, crime is one of the country’s main concerns and better social and economic conditions could be the answer.

Johan Burger, a researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, tells about the endemic violence affecting the country as a result of inequalities in society and a violent history.

A former policemen, Burger now works for the Pretoria Institute for Security Studies (ISS), an independent organisation supported financially by Switzerland, which enjoys a high degree of credibility in South Africa.

The province of Gauteng, South Africa’s economic powerhouse, is suffering from a high crime rate.

In Johannesburg, around 17 murders are committed each day. Burglaries and the violence that accompanies them feature regularly make the local news headlines.

But just as conspicuous is the security mania that mirrors this all-too-real scourge. The boundary walls of middle-class houses are almost universally topped with live electric wires. To get in, you generally have to open four or five gates using different keys.

In Pretoria, the seat of government, the homes of important people are surrounded by several electrified fences, sometimes more than ten metres in height, separated by walkways that are lit up at night and patrolled by security guards. Why is South African society so violent?

Johan Burger: I can think of two main reasons. The first has to do with our country’s history. For decades, we were caught up in violent conflicts, in some cases beyond our borders. Large numbers of young militants involved in black liberation movements received military training.

Only since 1994 has South Africa officially been at peace. But weapons continue to circulate in large numbers. Many of today’s hardened criminals underwent military training in the past.

The other key factor is the ever-widening gap between rich and poor. The expectations of large parts of the population have still not been met. For more than 20 years, the inhabitants of the townships have been promised water, electricity and a decent way of life, but nothing has changed. Frustration naturally leads to violence. So crime is just another way of getting out of poverty?

J.B.: Precisely. At least as far as theft is concerned. A recent survey we conducted of young burglars showed that most of them were not aware of having done anything wrong.

When you live in Alexandra, a poor township to the north of Johannesburg, and every day you see luxury four-wheel drive cars passing through on the way to Sandton, you think that you, too, are entitled to a slice of the cake. And the only way to get it, nowadays, is through violence. How can South Africa solve this problem?

J.B.: It won’t be easy. We have to improve the social and economic conditions of a large part of the population. But we we must also be more robust in tackling crime.

At present, there is a strong sense of impunity. Some criminals have told us they committed more than a hundred burglaries before getting caught. The crime clean-up rate is ridiculously low. It has to be said that crime pays in South Africa. By stealing a couple of motor vehicles a month, you can earn a very good living. Does this mean that the police are not doing their job properly?

J.B.: Police numbers have increased by 60,000 over the last ten years, particularly in the run-up to the World Cup. But very few of them are able to conduct a serious investigation.

Moreover, the South African police force has lost a very large number of experienced officers in recent years.

To reach a position of responsibility, you have to be the right skin colour; ability is not a primary consideration.

Many white police officers, such as myself, have left the force. ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’, as they say. There needed to be a compromise between positive discrimination, which was necessary, and the safeguarding of skills.

Another great concern is to do with private security firms, which account for more than two thirds (420,000) of total security personnel. In several cases, it has transpired that the agents themselves were committing the burglaries. Rather than solving the problem, this makes it worse. More than 18,000 people are killed each year in South Africa. Who are the most likely victims?

J.B.: The victims are mainly young blacks aged between 18 and 26. Almost 80 per cent of murders are in fact committed within the circle of family and close relationships.

A survey conducted in a township in the Northern Cape showed that most crime took place at weekends. People paid on a weekly basis go home, get drunk, then pick a quarrel. Since a lot of weapons are still in circulation, it often ends up with someone being killed.

Generally speaking, blacks are more likely to be victims of crime than whites. Many fans are hesitant to travel to South Africa for the World Cup. Are they right to fear for their security?

J.B.: I am confident that South Africa will be a safe place during the World Cup. The authorities have mobilised sufficient resources to deal with the various threats.

If I were a member of the government, I would be more concerned as to whether the roads and transport network will be completed on time, rather than focus on security problems.

The fans will nevertheless have to be vigilant, especially in the streets around the stadiums. Street muggings in fact account for more than 60 per cent of thefts involving violence.

I have, for example, advised Dutch fans to take off their very recognisable orange jerseys on leaving the stadium. It is silly to signal the fact that you are a tourist, potentially loaded with money.

Samuel Jaberg, in Pretoria (adapted from French)

Article Source:

Feedback to the above article by Digit, Switserland

For the purpose of this discussion, I am going to refer to South Africans in a Black and White peoples though I despise this colour coding as it is a heinous tool used to segregate an already polarised society. Although what is reported in this article is fundamentally correct, I personally feel it is incomplete. What is not reported is the on-going violence that is systematically targeting farmers. What is also not reported is the manner in which this race issue is addressed in the media which is also a clear indication of the glossing over of the real facts that are being reported.

These matters are critical as to how the general public perceive crime in South Africa and its widespread occurrence. To explain what I mean I shall give two examples. Firstly, since 1994, the liberation of South Africa from apartheid, more than 3000 White farmers have been brutally murdered – and when I say brutal, I am not just talking about a gunshot here – I mean HORROR story gore, rape (often done in front of the male members before being killed) dismemberment, disembowelment and outright savage butchery ( multiple stabbings and disfiguration ).

Lately and most notably, the brutal murder of Mr Eugene Terre’blanche over the Easter weekend over some concocted (to keep the peace ) reason of a little wage dispute. The reason this can only be a fabrication is because of what has preceded this matter regarding the ANCYL ( African National Congress Youth League ) leader Julius Malema’s call to “Kill the Boer” … taken from a so called Liberation song – though it is claimed that there is no link. This hypothesis seems very unlikely, but you can be assured that it will be simply prosecuted as simple crime (once again to keep the peace) and not a political crime which is what it actually is. ( I am aware of the political connotations here regarding this particular case, and that ET’B was leader of the Extreme Right wing party AWB. I know the feeling of “getting what he deserved” could be evoked, but if we are going to assume this position, then I have to conclude that this killing was just a precursor of what more is still to come – this was a message.)

Secondly, media reporting on crime in SA is worded in a manner to illustrate crimes perpetrated by individuals and Whites. Notice the subtlety here ??? Individuals and WHITES ??? When a crime is perpetrated by Blacks, they gain anonymity and become “individuals”. However, should the crime be perpetrated by a White, this is explicitly mentioned. Why is this important ?? Well, for a desensitised and “colour coded” polarised society still reeling is massive inequalities and racial tensions, an “individual” does not garner much attention emotionally, however, “WHITE” certainly does and only adds fuel to the fire.

The primary problem in South Africa is nothing else than the systematic polarisation of the populace. Of course the social and economic inequalities have to be addressed, but this has also clearly highlighted the SA government’s inability to address issues that are really important (… certainly more important than the WORLD CUP ) like education, employment, crime, infrastructure, housing and basic service delivery amongst others. However, the SA government fails miserably to address the tinder that this beautiful country is …. Racism. This was a problem before 1994 and it remains a problem today … though the shoe is clearly on the other foot these days. Calling people Black, White, Coloured is just that, RACISM … segregation along colour lines. Affirmative action, BEE and other heinous racially based “empowerment” measures have only served to further polarise this already fragile society.

The real harm here is illustrated in the drastic and catastrophic decline in Education, Protection services and essential medical services – where many of these professionals have left the country for positions abroad. South Africa possesses the resources, (intellectually, primary resources as well as manpower) to succeed economically in this world just like any other country in the developed world and to be competitive in every right as the markets dictate. But this segregation practiced in South Africa today makes the country expensive, uncompetitive, unproductive and unsafe.

These all contribute to make it violent, dangerous and crime ridden, not to mention corrupt. South Africa had a golden opportunity to show the world that integration, reconciliation and peace really did have a chance …. But this has been squandered by racial tension perpetrated, sponsored and encouraged by the very Liberators that are now in power. And the manner in which this is being done is to reinforce a mentality of … “GET EVEN BEFORE WE “REBUILD”….. based on racial colour lines ….!

Today, South Africa is just a spark from becoming another Zimbabwe ….. another country run by despots, corrupt and squandered.

(BUT as my dear cousin Adam in the UK always says... “This too shall pass.!”)

Featured Book:

Crime In South Africa

Published: 3 December 2009

Book Description:

The book contains High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Crime is a prominent issue in South Africa. South Africa has a high rate of murders, assaults, rapes, and other crimes compared to most countries. Many emigrants from South Africa state that crime was a big factor in their decision to leave. According to a survey for the period 1998 - 2000 compiled by the United Nations, South Africa was ranked first for rapes per capita. It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read. One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year. More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Available from or


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