2004 Volume 1
The Criminalisation of South Africa
By Peter Hammond
Last year 111,528 vehicles were reported stolen in South Africa, of which 45,152 (40%) were recovered. Police investigated 44,222 stock theft cases which resulted in 7,980 court cases.
52,425 rapes were reported. 41% of all the victims were aged 18 years or younger with 14% being 12 years or younger.
In the last 6 years there have been over 5,000 attacks on farmers, resulting in 771 murders of farmers.
In the last 4 years 654 policemen have been murdered.
Last year officially 21,553 people were murdered in South Africa.
These statistics are just some of the facts revealed in the latest report from the Ministry of Safety and Security.
It reminds me of a joke I heard in Zambia. “The South African Ambassador was being introduced to the Zambian Minister of Naval Affairs. The SA Ambassador laughed and said 'You can't have a Minister of Naval Affairs - Zambia is a land locked country!’
'Well', responded the Zambian 'in South Africa you have a Ministry of Justice!'”
Indeed, it seems quite inappropriate that we in South Africa have a Ministry of Safety and Security. Crime and violence would be a more accurate description.
A communication leaflet distributed to tourists by the South African Police Service contained the following: “Safety Hints For The Holiday Season: never display expensive jewellery, cameras, mobile phones or other valuables.”
Which raises the questions: when should jewellery be worn, if not in public? What are tourists meant to do with cameras and other valuables when walking in our streets?
The SAPS Safety Hints contained no less than 32 “basic rules”, “safety hints”, “in the street”, “when travelling”, “at hotels”, etc. Unfortunately, the extremely intrusive, inconvenient and frustrating requirements for safety in SA detailed in this leaflet, hardly seem excessive at all. Theft, assault and murder, even of tourists, have become common place.
Yet those of us who are over 40 can remember that it was not always like this. It does not seem that long ago when steering locks, gear locks, and car alarms were unknown in South Africa. In fact I know people who never even took the keys out of the ignition of their car, even when parked down town. Many homes were never locked. Burglar bars, security gates, home alarms and Armed Response companies were unknown and unnecessary. Many homes had no wall or only a low fence or hedge around the property. Children walked or cycled on their own to school, with no fear for their safety.What has happened to cause South Africa to degenerate to such a low respect for life and property? Why has crime and corruption seeped through all sectors of our society - affecting everyone?
CRIME AND GRIME
I pondered this question as I went for a run around my neighbourhood. Graffiti vandalised walls, litter and unkempt dying municipal gardens provided a clue. As our rates and taxes have skyrocketed, services from government and the municipality have plummeted. Crime and grime grow along with ineffective and corrupt government.
At a community meeting against crime, a police inspector pointed out that unkempt gardens and homes tend to be invitations to criminals. I then questioned the town councillor whether litter strewn and graffiti vandalised neighbourhoods are not similarly an invitation to the criminal element. He resented the connection, so I followed this up by pointing out that the municipality and government are involved in even more theft than the criminals are. By taking more and more rates and taxes and providing less and less services in return, the government is, in effect, stealing from the taxpayers.Now we not only have to pay the government and municipality our rates and taxes, but because of the failure of government, we also have to employ private security companies to provide the protections which the police used to give. And in several communities there is an extra tax for a Community Improvement District, to do what the municipality used to do - for far less rates.
In fact, as one considers VAT, it appears that the government may, in fact, be obtaining even more than the criminals are from the growth industry of theft. Take for example my motorbike which was stolen the day after the Ministry of Safety and Security reported that crime was decreasing in South Africa. When I purchased the motorbike I had to pay 14% VAT. On the insurance payments, I had to pay 14% VAT. Now that the item has been stolen I will have to pay another 14% VAT on any replacement for the motorbike! This means that the government may make more money out of the average vehicle theft than the criminal does.
It reminds one of the bumper sticker:
Don't steal - the government hates competition!
WHY CRIME IS A GROWTH INDUSTRY
Why has crime become a major growth industry and employer in South Africa? The failure of our criminal justice system is part of the answer. For every 1,000 crimes reported in South Africa, only 430 criminals are arrested. Of these, only 77 are convicted and barely 8 of these are sentenced to 2 or more years imprisonment. It is also calculated that South African convicts have a 94% recidivism rate (that is, 94% of all persons released after serving a sentence immediately become involved in crime again).
JUSTICE SYSTEM FAILURE
With our laws being so protective of the criminals and so ineffectively enforced, with lax security in jails, ridiculously low bail conditions, over generous remission of sentences, and wholesale amnesties, its no wonder our homes have had to be transformed into locked fortresses.
The early release of well over 100,000 criminals, including murderers and rapists, from South African prisons could not have helped either. Numerous reports have noted the sharp exponential increase of violent crime, particularly murder, in South Africa which coincided with the suspension of the death penalty in 1989 and its abolition in 1996.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE
Alcohol abuse has also been found to go hand in hand with South Africa's new culture of violence. Most homicide victims have been found to have high concentrations of alcohol in their blood. Most murders have tended to be committed in summer, on Friday and Saturday nights and in and around taverns, bars and shebeens. Most suspects arrested for murder and rape have been found to have used drugs within 48 hours prior to the arrest.
A booklet (“Talk About Children At Risk”) written by the South African Police Services Child Protection Unit, revealed that South Africa was “fast becoming known as the premier sex tourism destination of the world, particularly because children's bodies are plentiful and cheap. It is also common knowledge that this country is a world leader in the spread of HIV/Aids.”
A MANUAL FOR RAPE
The police report noted that “in 1996 the Films and Publication Act was past legalising pornography for the first time in the history of the country, this made it possible for child abusers, rapists and paedophiles to obtain all the material they needed. Statistics tell the story as South African Police Service records show that child rape increased…over 400%”
The police report further stated that: “research with child sexual offenders reveals that all have used child pornography.” Pornography is the theory, rape is the practise.
The tragic result of the SA government’s legalisation of the exploitative pornography industry is catalogued by the SAPS Child Protection Unit: “the commercial exploitation of children includes…rape, murder, abduction, bribery, false marriages…bonded labour, extortion, mail order brides…1 out of every 12 prostitutes is younger than 17…” This wholesale exploitation of children has flourished because of “corruption and collusion, the absence of or inadequacy of laws, lax law enforcement and limited sensitisation of law enforcement personnel to the harmful impact on children…and government officials who may, often unwittingly, be guilty through indifference, ignorance…”
The National Institute for Crime Prevention (NICRO) has estimated that there are approximately 380,000 rape cases in South Africa every year. Yet, as the rape rate has soared, the conviction rate of rapists has plummeted. Less than 7% of reported rapists are ever convicted!“Why do people commit crime so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough” Ecclesiastes 8:11
THEFT BY CONSENT
Other causes of the criminalisation of South Africa which should be considered include the legalisation of gambling and abortion. Legalised gambling has been described as “theft by consent.” It could also be considered as a form of taxation upon those who cannot do maths. It has been calculated that you have more chance of being struck by lightning than of winning the lottery. Every study on gambling has shown that along with a rise of gambling always comes an increase in all kinds of crime and vice, including fraud and theft.
The “Choice on Termination of Pregnancy” Act, in legalising violence against pre-born babies has also gone along with a massive increase in the violence and abuse of children. After all, if violence against pre-born babies can be justified, then why not against older children? Abortion devalues human life, and fosters a mentality which leads to increasing child abuse. Abortion is the ultimate child abuse. Over 350 000 babies have been legally killed through abortion in South Africa in the last seven years.
The dumbing down of our education system through the Outcomes Based Education, Curriculum 2005 programme of the Ministry of Education, must also be looked at. The compulsory sex education, situation ethics, evolutionism, and general anti-Christian bias of the education department has not only eroded ethical foundations and lowered moral standards in South African schools, but academic standards have plummeted as well.
An incredulous Principal showed me one official letter sent by the Minister of Education. In this letter the Minister complained about the habit of too many teachers coming to school late and leaving early to go to shebeens and brothels, often returning drunk or failing to return at all! The Minister of Education also warned against “the prevalent practice” of teachers forcing students to have sex with them! This was “demeaning” and “an abuse of authority” he claimed!
That this child abuse was common place in the government schools was a terrible indictment, but that the Department of Education was not firing and prosecuting these rapists and child abusers was, if anything, even more shocking.
By the time the average child graduates he or she will have spent up to 15 000 hours in school. What value or worldview will he or she have learnt during that time?
Nearly 500 years ago the great German Reformer, Martin Luther warned: “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them on the hearts of youth. I advise no-one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
Another cause of the criminalisation of South Africa is the entertainment industry. Superficial, sensational and violent material, often glamorising crime, predominates the modern entertainment industry and it is producing an increasingly superficial, selfish, lawless and immoral society.
The disintegration of many families, absentee parents and a general absence of discipline have created a vacuum. Violent and immoral films and videos, throbbing, pulsating, noise - masquerading as music - and pornographic magazines are filling the void in the aimless and meaningless lives of all too many young people. Many films fall into the “how to” category, giving training on how to be a bank robber, fraudster, car thief, etc. The criminal is often the most attractive character of the film. Rap, drugs, violent video games, and gangs are breeding a whole generation of criminals and gangsters.
The selfishness and short-sightedness of modern society is also seen in litter strewn, graffiti vandalised communities. The filth, pollution and destruction of the environment in which all too many children play and grow up in is also reflected in the self-mutilation and body piercing of a growing number of confused young people. Pierced noses and eyebrows, tongue studs and belly rings along with acid rock and rap should be a wake up call to any parent. But, incredibly all too many parents seem oblivious to the sullen, self-destructive, rebellious attitudes that go along with this kind of body mutilating, mind rotting and soul destroying sub culture.
So, when next we ask the question, what has happened that South Africa could have been overwhelmed by such a tidal wave of crime, let us consider the ethical and moral roots. As South Africa has turned away from God, and embraced Pagan policies, how can we be surprised?
By legalising gambling, prostitution, pornography, and abortion; and by promoting humanistic education in the schools and passive acceptance of violent and immoral entertainment in the media, we have undermined the essential respect for life and property without which society cannot effectively function.
“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best corrective of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide…the principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore, who weakens or destroys the Divine authority of that Book, may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer…” Noah Webster
Until South Africa returns to Biblical principles in economics, education, entertainment, in the judiciary and in Parliament, we cannot expect to win the war against crime.
As this is an election year, we should examine the policies and track record of the various parties on crime and punishment issues and on the right to own weapons for self-defence. Make your vote count.
Dr Peter Hammond is the Director of Christian Action Network, and the author of Biblical Principles for Africa, Renaissance or Reformation and Faith Under Fire in Sudan.