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NATHANIEL LEE | Police unable to bring crime wave under control

Every week we are subjected to doses of horrifying news

President Cyril Ramaphosa with Minister Bheki Cele and Oscar Mabuyane Premier of the Eastern Cape officiated the expansion of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Science Biology Laboratory in Gqeberha where after he addressed the Women in Law Enforcement Parade on the last day of womens month held at the Wolfson Stadium is a sports stadium in KwaZakele.
President Cyril Ramaphosa with Minister Bheki Cele and Oscar Mabuyane Premier of the Eastern Cape officiated the expansion of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Science Biology Laboratory in Gqeberha where after he addressed the Women in Law Enforcement Parade on the last day of womens month held at the Wolfson Stadium is a sports stadium in KwaZakele.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The 1994 democratic project seems to be unravelling spectacularly as SA staggers towards three decades of ANC misrule.

Crisis permeates the country as every passing week brings in its wake doses of horrifying news. From road explosions, loadshedding, zama zama turf wars with the terrorising of communities and burning buildings, it seems that it never rains but pours for our forsaken country. The rule of law seems to have been placed on the back burner as criminals and gangsters rule the roost.

That we are nearing a climax is evidenced by the crime wave sweeping the country with the police seemingly unable to bring it under control. Recently there have been reports that several schools in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape have been targeted by gangs and pupils and staff are in a constant state of fear. This state of affairs prompted Gelvandale High School principal, Deon O’Brien to pen a letter to parents to apprise them of the volatile situation where the schooling community has been threatened by outside gang elements as well as pupils inside the school, who are gang members.

“These criminal elements gather in front of the school, mornings and afternoons, playing loud music and threatening and harassing our learners, while robbing them of their valuables,” he said.

The unstable situation at the school has led to a number of parents transferring their children to different schools.

As is his wont, police minister Bheki Cele visited the area to hear the concerns of the residents. He stated he was aware of the problem and urged the community to be involved in the war against crime. During the visit, a mother of a six-year old daughter told Cele that she refused to send her daughter to school because at the moment “school equals death”.

Is this the society we have become? A society that cannot protect its children? British columnist, Owen Jones writes: “A society should be judged by how it treats its children. A country that fails to invest in its children is imperiling its future.”

According to the SAPS fourth quarterly crime statistics between January and March this year, eight murders, 14 attempted murders and 84 rapes occurred on the premises of educational facilities, including daycare centres and universities.

Margaret Holthausen, director at the trauma centre, said the number of rapes at schools reflected the high number of sexual assaults taking place in South African society and suggested the strengthening of social services at schools.

“We have to take additional measures to keep children safe,” she said.

The fact that criminals seem to have so much free rein in the country feeds into the narrative that our country is or at least is fast becoming a failed state.

Author David Samuel introduces the idea of state capacity, which he uses to refer to the ability of the state to fulfil its basic functions, such as providing security, maintaining law and order and delivering public services. The South African state has a lot to do to meet this qualification.

The slide into lawlessness can be neutralised with a few preventative strategies. As American abolitionist Frederick Douglas, said: “It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.” Firstly, at the level of homes, parents need to talk to their children and to show an interest in their schoolwork.

They should be alert of warning signs that include sudden changes such as withdrawal, decline in grades, sleep disruption, eating problems and lying. They should not be afraid to parent and should intervene decisively when necessary. Every parent should be involved in their children’s school. It is important to show children you believe in them and want them to succeed. Knowing the teachers and staying informed about the school’s events is important in this regard.

Next year will afford the country another opportunity to chart a new course in an effort to redress the 30 wasted years of the ANC’s misgovernment.

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