#changethestory: Fat on fire of SA’s violence
Recently released crime statistics by Police Minister Bheki Cele were unsurprising as the lived reality of an overwhelming number of South Africans makes murder, violence and mayhem an inescapable part of daily life.
Last week, a day before the national crime statistics were released, Nomaphelo Kebe, her daughter Wendy and son Sive were gunned down in Mfuleni.
Last Tuesday, the bodies of murdered Hartswater farmers Danie and Breggie Brand and their daughter Elzabe were found.
Two families – one black and one white – died violently in South Africa last week. Mfuleni in the Western Cape and Hartswater in the North West, 1 061km apart, shared a common grief. Too many South Africans share this common grief – 58 times every day and 21 325 times a year.
There are many troubling aspects to the violence narrative in South Africa. I contend that our political eco-system creates the perfect space for these crimes to be committed. The blatant corruption and self-enrichment of our politicians and the absence of their prosecution is the core contributor to violence.
The “if they can do it and get away with it, why can’t we” mentality is firmly rooted in the minds of ordinary people.
Politicians who associate political life with expensive cars, unchecked power and multiple houses are a stench in our nation. I have previously stated that ministers should be buying official vehicles of no more than R350 000 a vehicle – instead of the R3.2 million they are allowed to spend on two official vehicles. People in over-crowded taxis regard this as government-sanctioned looting.
The slow sense of prosecuting crimes and acts of corruption emanating from how long the Zondo Commission is taking to make findings that the SIU can follow up and the NPA can prosecute, is disheartening.
The fact is that few high-profile politicians go to jail for corruption in this country. How much longer can we endure the Zondo Commission? The truth is that coming to tell your crime now appears to be akin to going to church for confession.
It all starts with “forgive me father for I have sinned” and appears, in the eye of the unemployed and starving Mr and Mrs Public who sits in a shack eating boiled whatever, to end with “I absolve you from every bond and interdict, so far as your needs require”.
Stop for a moment: a starving, poor South African family has just seen, on live television, a man confessing to stealing millions of rand. No one rushes into the room to arrest him. He leaves the room and goes on with his life. Yet four police vans will rock up to arrest Mr and Mrs Public when they start arguing and fighting with their friends about what they just saw on television.
The unbelievable ignorance of the complex problems in South Africa by our political classes adds fuel to the fires of violence. So too does the crippling poverty, the increasing unemployment and the lingering racialised existences of the South African people.
Violence and murder is a consequence, not of alcohol abuse, but of that violation and injustice experienced by ordinary and often poor South Africans through the behaviour of politicians.
Alcohol is the escape to dull that violation. The unfortunate outcome of that escape route is a murder often unrelated to the narratives that triggered the orgy of violence.
Every murder in South Africa must be condemned. Farm murders must be condemned. Politicians must not be silent when our farmers are murdered.
Young township youth, killed by illegal guns, must be condemned. Politicians must stop making promises that they will end violence when their behaviour, comments and inaction are triggers for violence.
We have lost the way. It’s time to stop the violence by stopping the injustice of corruption and self-enrichment. Condemn all injustice. End the enrichment. Prosecute the politicians. It is the only way to change the narrative.
* Lorenzo A Davids is chief executive of the Community Chest.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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