The mass action, sparked by the tragic killing of a Chatsworth child in a hijacking was long overdue.
However, I could not help but question why it had to take such a terrible incident to awaken this community from its slumber. A young girl, with all her dreams and aspirations ahead of her had to be violently snatched away from this world before the community decided to take action.
This is not the first time I have seen this phenomenon and it won’t be the last. A few years ago, there was the infamous Baby X case which made headlines. A 3-year-old child was abused and tortured to death, allegedly at the hands of her grandmother and mother.
The grandmother died in April 2018. Her daughter will know her fate when judgment is handed down on August 20.
The community was outraged and unleashed their anger at Chatsworth Child Welfare for its “inaction”. This despite that some had seen or had known of the abuse for several years.
Posters were made, they attended court proceedings and made a big hoo-haa and then all of a sudden - nothing. They slipped back into their lives and the politicians went back to what they were doing and that is where it ended.
Now, following the tragic death of Sadia Sukhraj, the community simply did what they did best - they picked out someone to blame - the police. They cited crime spiralling out of control and police inaction and in their droves, marched to the Chatsworth police station saying they were fed up.
Now, I’m not painting everyone with the same brush but I found the whole episode quite hypocritical. Where are these people when drug abuse and drug dealers slowly eat away at this community on a daily basis ?
Where are they when there are community policing forums and neighbourhood watches crying out for members and assistance? Where are they when the police ask for information to assist with investigations?
They are nowhere.
We cannot have one set of rules for one type of criminal and another set of rules for other criminals. Crime is crime and its effects are far reaching and devastating.
Let’s take the drug issue for example. These dealers are also criminals, they are also murderers, robbers and hijackers but do we see the same kind of mobilisation against them from the community?
What’s even more astonishing is that the drug dealers are all known to them. They are relatives, neighbours and friends - surely this should make them easier to catch? But it doesn’t happen because unfortunately, this community picks its battles and let’s face it, it’s much easier to blame someone else for your own failures.
While it was great to see those hundreds of people outside the police station that evening, it would be even better to see them show that level of interest against crime in all its forms. This is not a time to blame the police.
It is a time to ask, how you can get involved but it is also a time to question your own behaviour as a community and to question your own actions and to be true to fighting crime in all its forms.
Practice what you preach.
This is in no way a vindication on the part of the police. They too must be held accountable in order for this situation to correct itself.
So too must the prosecuting authority and the courts.
The death of Sadia should not be in vain, neither should the groundswell of activism that this tragic crime has given rise to.
It is now time for this community to target all forms of criminality with the same enthusiasm and courage.
The Chatsworth community has a long and proud tradition of activism. It’s about time they lived up to it.
* Viasen Soobramoney is Independent Media’s Acting National Editor: Live News and a social activist.
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