Undoubtedly, South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa with its terrific panoramic landscapes, seductive beaches and architectural masterpiece. It is a nostalgic destination for many Western (and even African) tourists. However, despite the beauty and captivating qualities of South Africa, violent crime has become one of the country`s challenges and indeed nightmares.
Since its first universal elections in 1994, which brought in the ANC government into power, South Africa has been struggling to curtail the menace of crime. With the latest 2014/2015 statistics available, violent crimes are on the astronomical increase in South Africa. Worse still, criminality in the country is hardly under control. Abduction of tourists for ransom, drug related crimes, rape, car hijackings are part of the everyday reality in South Africa. The result is such that many South Africans fearfully live under siege in their high-walled communities under barricaded homes, while car owners increasingly resort to alarm-protected cars for safety. Serious law and order to prevent crimes like murders and robberies seems to be a daydream, making big cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg the crime headquarters of the world – competing with the notorious, San Pedro Sula, Caracas, Guatemala City, Ciudad Juarez to mention but a few. With the murder rate up to 17 805 this year, South Africa experiences a minimal of 49 murders daily, a rate comparable to a war zone. From murder, aggravated robbery, car hijackings, attempted murder, rape, drug-related crime, crime in South Africa has reached another highly worrisome dimension.
Being a country with immigrants, surely, the high crime rate has given some bigots the ammunition to shift the blame on immigrants for all the social ills in South Africa. Shameful images of xenophobic butchery attacks earlier this year in South Africa, left the world shocked and led many to ask whether South Africans` Ubuntu (“human kindness“ / “humanity toward others”) belief and philosophy has been thrown in the waste bin of xenophobic hatred and intolerance. Countries like Zambia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola, which sacrificed a lot including their citizens towards South African independence have ironically borne the criminal hatred attacks from the same South Africans they patriotically helped free from the shackles of apartheid crime. Definitely, the Ubuntu philosophy in South Africa has been quickly replaced with Makwerekwere (“You do not belong here”) by the very South Africans who once, as immigrants, were ironically welcomed whole-heartedly in other countries globally during the apartheid era. Many politicians, including the President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma were quick to blame the xenophobic attacks on Tsotsies, (criminals). Whether the attacks or deaths were xenophobic or Tsotsi (Criminal) related, the bottom line is the same ““ South Africa is experiencing mountainous cases of uncontrollable degree of crime!
But clearly ““ and interestingly for that matter – the rate of crime in South Africa was drastically lower during the White minority rule. As one of the most unequal places in the world in terms of resource distribution, due to the apartheid era, the wide gap of inequality between the rich and the poor in South Africa could take centuries to fill. Some have argued that prevalence of poverty and social unrest in the country, are necessary ingredients for extremely high crime rate; however how does this argument explain the raw reality that many poorer countries like Uganda, Rwanda, the Gambia are much safer than South Africa? Worse still, available statistics have shown that an average black South African is less educated than their counterparts in the neighbouring countries or many other African countries as a whole. In a country where most of the leaders are euphemistically truants, it is increasingly becoming less a taboo to imagine how a complex economy like South African can be managed effectively by less educated leaders. With blatant corruption in virtually all arms of the government, it is less difficult to see why crime is taking the upper hand in the amazingly beautiful South Africa.
Blessed with a healthy economy, coupled with its beauty, South Africa has a lot of potentials. But some might as well ask how an average South African – and tourists indeed – can peacefully enjoy the country`s potentials when their lives are in danger? Definitely, the danger posed by crimes in South Africa is far dicey than the presence of immigrants in the country. Perhaps the bitter questions one cannot help but ask are: Has crime become an inescapable reality in South Africa? What / who are responsible for the high rate of crimes in South Africa? What are the best ways to tackle the crime epidemic in the country, which has tarnished the beauty of the country? Please share your opinions.