Friday, November 25, 2005

Can SA turn crime into advantage?

Carnage: A cash van lies on its roof after being ambushed during a heist which left one security guard dead and two injured. Photo: Steve Lawrence, The Star
When you're down, you notice negative things. In my state of low spirits over the past few weeks, I have been really worried about the state of apparently increasing crime in the South African news.

The armed heists of cash-in-transit vans, the robberies of grocery stores, the attacks on tourists and the muggings on Cape Town's Table Mountain have all featured in my conciousness.

And then I read this report about a pardoned killer killing within two weeks of his release, robbing a little boy of his father and child support.

Of course South Africa suffers crime because of massive poverty and we are not unlike Brazil and Mexico in having to deal with the problem.

But while we focus on job creation we have to get tough on crime. Build more prisons. Increase the numbers of courts.

Perhaps we can be innovative about incarceration. Let's create work gangs to do work that is too lowly paid (as a result of Chinese competition) for local minimum conditions of employment. Let's use work gangs to perform the back breaking infrastructural work required in rural areas. Let's send a message that prison is not just a place that the weaker criminals need to fear rape, etc, but a place where those that prey on the weak will be made to pay.

And let's keep the criminals in prison. I love this country and have chosen to stay. Poverty is no excuse for crime. Ask those who really are desperate and are willing to work for anything.

I do believe in Guilianni's "broken window" philosophy that if you fail to take care of the small things the big things get out of control. Witness the crimes such as those committed by the hammer killer. There is no excuse of poverty there. Would these take place if we were absolutely intolerant of crime?

No comments: