Criminals are running amok in SA

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the latest crime statistics show that the situation in South Africa is “quite bad.” Speaking in Johannesburg at the weekend, Ramaphosa said: “We cannot be a lawless country. We cannot be a country where lawlessness just happens, just willy nilly, where anybody just does what they like.”

The President is spot on! Criminals are running amok and they have no respect for life nor property. Crime has become a national sport for many. Lawlessness has become the order of the day. The Crime Stats show that life in our country has become cheap. The blood continues to flow and with an average of one person being killed every 30 minutes, we have a national crisis. 

South Africa has sadly become a war-zone. Our murder rate now exceeds some of the figures recorded in war-torn countries. Our government has an obligation to protect us. That’s what the Constitution requires. We are being led down. While we point fingers at government and hold them to account, we all have a responsibility to fight crime.

To say “Enough is enough” is not enough. We need much more. There is a lot of talking and little action. We must all embrace the concept of active citizenry: Blow the whistle on crime. Support or join your local Community Police Forum. Join the Neighbourhood Watch or Street Committees. Every citizen has a role to play and civil society must mobilize. It was good to see tens of thousands of people marching recently to raise their voices against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

We need much more pro-active actions. While some laws need to be strengthened, we need current laws to be implemented. The South African Police Service (SAPS) must really get it’s act together once and for all. Poor service delivery, weak investigations, low morale and corruption are but just some of the on-going problems.

We need strong and effective leadership within the SAPS. The recent violence and looting did not only expose the police yet again for poor crime intellegence, but also poor response time. Minister Bheki Cele was honest to admit that the Crime Stats were worrying. I hope he holds the police leadership to account.

We need a vibrant police service. We need them to embrace technology. We need them to protect and serve us. It’s good to hear that Cele is in the process of setting up a Ministerial  Advisory Committee. That has been long overdue. We need experts from across society to guide the Police. Partnerships are critical at all levels. We all need to hold hands and fight the crime scourge.

It’s good to see initiatives like the one being run by Independent Media to highlight GBV. “It takes a real man to read it out Aloud.” The pledge “#MyPromise to every woman in South Africa” needs our support. Let’s do our bit and #MakeSASafe. We are born in South Africa and we are going nowhere. Leaving this country is not an option. We have no Plan B. We cannot give in to these criminals.

The criminals are terrorizing our communities. Yes, let’s call them terrorists. We should all be fed-up with crime. It’s time for each and every one of us to stand up. Crime is tearing families and communities apart. It’s affecting our economy. It’s affecting tourism. South Africa cannot grow and develop for as long as crime is rampant. Ramaphosa has called for “determined action” to deal with criminality. We agree! It’s long overdue. Let’s get cracking.

Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Vice-President of Crime Stoppers International (CSI).