South Africa - Johannesburg - 02 January 2019 -  A night virgil was held for the two women who were shot dead outside a Poppy's restaurant in melville, two people were killed and six injured in a suspected drive-by shooting on New years day.Picture: Itumeleng English/Africa News Agency(ANA)
South Africa had a particularly brutal and bloody start to 2020, with perhaps the most graphic being the drive-by shooting that claimed two lives and injured six in Melville, Johannesburg, on New Year’s Eve.

This was not the only incident; others were killed elsewhere in South Africa but didn’t receive the same level of coverage because we are fast becoming inured to the level of violence in this country - and especially the inexorable rise of violent crime.

Foreign embassies certainly aren’t, though.

This week, the Israeli embassy issued a travel advisory to its citizens to be exceptionally aware of the dangers when visiting this country. Ironically, anti-Semitism is not one of them, but violent crime and gender-based violence are.

Israel isn’t the only country to issue a warning to its nationals about our country. The US has a standing warning, Britain routinely warns its citizens, while our own neighbours, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe took the unprecedented step of cautioning their own nationals after last year’s outbreak of xenophobic violence.

Crime is not just killing us, literally; it will kill off our tourism industry, even if we don’t manage it ourselves through load shedding and (until recently) ridiculous visa requirements or climate change does it through droughts or flooding.

This is the same industry our politicians speak about so blithely as the silver bullet for our woes, as both a sustainable job creator and earner of valuable foreign exchange, understandable given our rich surfeit of attractions across the spectrum of adventure, eco, culture and recreational tourism.

We have to do better, but that actually means waking up and admitting that we have a problem.

We have to stop normalising the abnormal, and forever making excuses; the rest of the world certainly won’t, they’ll just spend their holidays and their US dollars elsewhere.