SA’s 2018 Crime statistics & the economy (1)
SA is increasingly deteriorating into a combination of the Wild West and a Mafia state with Government incapable of keeping crime in check. Minister Beki Cele admits “the ball was dropped” but remains adamant that “(w)e haven’t reached a state of lawlessness in South Africa and we won’t”.
The South African population begs to differ: Crime pays… and quite handsomely as well.
The returns on crime far exceeds returns on long-term investment in blue chip stocks. South Africans’ trust in and reliance on the police is scarcer than icebergs in tropical oceans. And inefficient policing doesn’t only kill the economy: it kills justice as well.
These figures stem from 2000 but it is unlikely that matters have improved since. With at most a 10% success rate (guilty verdicts plus ongoing trials) it is no wonder that society’s vote of no-confidence in both the police and the justice system is expressed by:
- Businesses and individuals relying far more on private security firms that on the police, both for crime prevention and quick response reaction. (On Braaidag there will again be numerous references to the Flying Squad that underwent radical transformation to become the Snail Squad.)
- A dangerous trend of communities resorting to mob justice since they consider the police as ineffective and in cahoots with criminals.
- Provincial and local authorities assuming commitments beyond their mandates because the vacuum created by the failure of central government and its agencies is harming the rights and the economy of both the province and locality.
- Neighbourhoods in several cities, small town residents as well as farming communities resorting to self-financed patrolling systems.
Comprehensive view ignores the data
How should one then judge Cele’s statement that a state of lawlessness hasn’t been reached and would not be reached? It has all the potential to score high on the EPNI (Extended Pinocchio Nose Index), competing with:
- Jacob Zuma’s repeated statements committing Government to the eradication of corruption;
- P W Botha claiming in August 1985 to have crossed the Rubicon;
- President Ramaphosa stating there is not really a recession and it is a merely a case of statistics; and
- Deputy-president Mabuza saying in Parliament “a comprehensive view” indicates there is no recession and dismissing “the fact that land expropriation accounts for this (the recession) or that it is scaring investors. I don’t agree” despite Bloomberg having evidence to the contrary.
These examples show a remarkable tendency to ignore or discount facts that contradict their positions, therefore Cele will not consider the following incidents as indicative of a state of lawlessness:
- Protesters picketing the Johannesburg’s Pikit-up offices to demand employment by the City’s waste management company assaulted the manager, doused him with petrol and threatened to set him alight
- Nine commuters using PRASA’s urban rail system robbed and thrown off the moving train, one died, another found with a knife blade embedded in his head.
- Extortion by (often unskilled) mafia groups demanding 30% of any construction project should be channelled to them as local subcontractors and lacking such concessions, preventing construction to get off the ground.
- Land invasions to accelerate housing projects or to promote expropriation without compensation trampling in the process not only property rights, but harming the economy.
- Attacking and looting foreigner-owned spaza shops due to so-called expired shelf dates – the latest excuse for proletarian shopping.
- Highway robberies and looting that, apart from the immense damages cause rising costs for all businesses whose transportation of goods have been delayed.
- Protestors burning schools, libraries, clinics and municipal buildings, even preventing their own children from schooling in order to extort a housing project, a tarred road, or whatever from the local and provincial government.
Shifting the blame for crimes to the victims
These are only some examples of Government’s grip slipping on what is considered to be the key Kindergarten task of a government: ensuring the protection of the rights of all natural and legal persons in the state territory by:
- an effective defence force protecting the integrity of the borders, and
- an effective law and order force that acts as a pro-active preventer of criminality and in cases where it cannot be prevented, as an effective investigator ensuring perpetrators have their day in court.
Consider for a moment the authorities reaction when shops operated by Somali’s, Ethiopians, Bangladeshi’s and other residents from foreign shores had been looted under the pretexts of “taking our jobs”, “selling drugs”, “prostituting our children”, “selling shelf-expired products”. After such incidents, official declarations followed regretting that “residents have taken the law into their own hands”, thus implying that there were crimes committed by foreign shop keepers. There has seldom been effective protection of the foreigners and their goods in our midst.
The logic behind the SAPS statements is that locals would not take the law into their own hands were it not for the guilt by the foreign (shopkeepers): through such statements there is exoneration of the perpetrators and conviction of the victims. The looting mobs “pardoned” by SAPS declarations that they “have taken the law into their own hands” had actually raped the law with SAPS acting as meek observers consenting to this scandalous behaviour.
Ineffective policing strengthens criminal value chain
attacks on the Cape metro rail system are widely considered as well-orchestrated attacks by the taxi mafia to undermine public transport systems for their own benefit. Unwilling or unable to face competition and intent on wiping out competitors, these perpetrators are not in the faintest concerned about wrecking the economy of Cape Town and have brought urban rail – the backbone of public transport in the metro – to the verge of collapse. Since May 2015 Cape Metrorail has lost 151 coaches due to arson estimated at a loss of R509 million: this excludes to losses to infrastructure (cable theft), vandalism at stations and to tracks and least of all: the negative impact on the Western Cape economy.
The Police service has acted with less effect than zombies since zombies might have scared off perpetrators. The immunity bestowed through ineffective policing on the disrupters and arsonists of trains and saboteurs of rail infrastructure with only 2 arrests and not a single successful prosecution in ten years opened an opportunity for strengthening the criminal value chain: pure gangsters moved in, scaring the poor through robbery, assault and extortion from utilising the rail system, knowing well that crime pays.
PRASA, the agency running Metro Rail, had to be reminded by the Constitutional Court of their obligation to ensure safety of commuters. The Cape Metro and Cape Provincial Government however commenced with a program to train a special protection unit and in May an agreement was signed with PRASA committing R16 million towards the unit. PRASA’s failure to honour their constitutional obligation and their contractual commitment has resulted in delays in launching this special unit.
This institutional incapacity (abomination would be more appropriate) contributed to the murder and attempted murder of the commuters and anxiety, stress and increased costs for both commuters and businesses due to productivity losses in the Western Cape.
It raises also the following questions:
- Is the deliberate neglect of duties by PRASA coupled with a systemic understaffing of police stations in the Western Cape (85% of police stations do not have their staff complement) a strategy to undermine the economy of a province that had dared to elect an opposition party?
- Is the lack of protection of both formal established businesses ( with the cost of crime for business considered by the WEF as the 5th highest in the world ) as evident in the construction sector part of the strategy of radical economic transformation?
- Does Government really understand that lower crime levels are essential to achieve higher investment? In the next blog [SA’s 2018 Crime statistics & the economy (2)] the focus will also fall the relationship between investment, poverty and crime.
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