We need sustainable practical ways to end all violence

22 June 2020 - 06:50

SA is in dire need of sustainable solutions to the scourge of violent crime, including gender-based violence (GBV).

The rate of violent crime, including murder, assault and rape among others, is unacceptably high, earning our country the dubious honour as one of the leading crime capitals in the world.

Added to this toxic mix, one can throw in the sporadic outbreaks of xenophobic violence meted out on our African brethren.

Taxi violence also rears its ugly head from time to time, claiming many lives in its wake. We can also count in gang violence and car hijackings to this macabre list.

Recently, there has been a renewed spike in GBV with the murders of women, including Tshegofatso Pule, 28, who was murdered while eight months pregnant with her body found hanging from a tree.

Naledi Phangindawo died after being hacked with an axe while attending a function at Mossel Bay.

In her case, a 34-year-old man has since turned himself in to the police.

These are but two murders which have led to renewed public outrage since the murders of other women, including Uyinene Mrwetyana, which spawned varied responses and hashtags.

What becomes clear is that the responses to the scourge of GBV are not sustained. Initial outrages to the scourges are usually followed by a lull only to be interrupted by fresh outbreaks. This tendency then militates against efforts to eradicate the scourge.

The government's response to the scourge of violent crime also leaves much to be desired. Statements of condemnation are usually not followed up with tangible interventions to ensure the prevention of further outbreaks.

It seems the government is always caught napping with no plans in place to counter the scourge.

Currently, the president has promised to deploy ministers to meet with community leaders nationwide to understand what exactly was fuelling the increase in crime.

His comments reveal the level of disconnect between the government and the society it is supposed to lead. Simply put, the government does not have its finger on the pulse of society.

What is clear is that SA is a very violent society which makes it an unsafe and unhappy place to live in. Violence also yields negative personal, social and economic costs on individuals and societies.

With violent crime spiralling out of control, SA will not be able to attain any of its developmental goals with the risk of ending up as a failed state. The key question in this regard is what is to be done?

To overturn the scourge of violent crime, it is imperative to analyse the factors that fuel it. More importantly, the recommendations of the analysis should inform the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to root out the problem.

We cannot afford seasonal outrages following acts of violence then continue with our business until the next outbreak. Researchers have ascribed incidents of violent to among others, the normalisation of violence, youth vulnerability due to inadequate child-rearing, high levels of inequality and inefficient and corrupt criminal justice system.

The normalisation of violence can be seen with the ubiquitous outbreaks of the so-called service delivery protests. A common feature of these is the violent nature they are conducted with the burning and looting of public property the norm.

The scourge of GBV and violent crime in general will only be overcome through a holistic and comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention. Such prevention measures should be implemented in a sustainable manner to ensure the scourge is defeated.

- Lee is a Sowetan reader and regular letter contributor