Ramaphosa must be tough on criminals

Phumlani Majozi says South Africa is a country which has lost the respect of the world

Ramaphosa must be tough on criminals

12 August 2022

We live in a very dangerous country, South Africa. A gentleman I know once said that we live by “God's grace” in Johannesburg. He was right. This is a country with shocking crime rates. The crime rates that cannot be found in other major emerging markets.

The recent gang-rape at Krugersdorp, the shootings in taverns, and hundreds of weekly murders, all taint South Africa's image in the eyes of the world. 

We were once a respected nation - during the years of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. We were seen as an African nation with potential. Not anymore. In the past decade and a half, we have lost respect from other nations around the world. One of the reasons we’ve lost the respect, is our staggering crime rate.

The facts on South Africa’s crime crisis are well-known by the informed public, and men and women who execute public policy. 

I believe the wonderful, nice ideas peddled by the left, will not reduce South Africa’s shocking crime rate. 

The left spreads the idea that poverty and wealth inequality cause violent criminals to kill or rape people in South Africa. To the left, violent criminals are victims of an ‘unfair’ economic system. We must redistribute wealth if we want to reduce crime, the myopic left argues. 

These ideas by the left sound wonderful, but they will not reduce the shocking murder and rape rates. The notion that we must redistribute wealth is absurd. Nobody is entitled to other people’s wealth. Criminals are not entitled to other people’s wealth. We need to be tough on the fight against crime. If we continue to embrace the left’s crazy ideas, criminals will continue running amok, causing hell in our communities. 

Our justice system must be overhauled so that criminals are caught and locked up. The police presence, law enforcement, in communities plagued by crime must be strengthened. There must be a crackdown on violent criminals and severe punishments imposed on convicted murderers and rapists. Being soft on criminals will continue to endanger us all. 

As head of state, President Cyril Ramaphosa must lead the fight against this crime crisis. Drastic crime reduction needs stronger leadership from Mr. Ramaphosa.

Moeletsi Mbeki has said that Ramaphosa is not a leader, and that Jacob Zuma was better in decisiveness. Moeletsi is not the only person to have spoken about Ramaphosa’s weak leadership.

I concurred with Zuma when he said that South Africa’s democracy is lenient to criminals. He said this in February last year.

We grant human rights to people who do not value other people’s human rights. If you don't value other people's rights, and you take away their lives, why should you be granted rights yourself? Why should you live? You must face the death penalty. Hence, South Africans must relook at the death penalty, as former mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba has argued.

We need a change in our mindset and attitude when it comes to fighting crime. One of the biggest blunders we have made in our democracy, has been to choose to govern South Africa like an educated, developed society. That has been a blunder because we are not such a society. We are still a challenged country in a myriad of ways.

Political leaders, policymakers, and the media elite, have never understood that not all the Western ways of governance can be applicable to contemporary South Africa, a developing country.

The shocking levels of rape and murder suggest that we cannot import all the governance tactics of the West, where these crime incidents are almost non-existent.

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of Singapore, understood that not all Western ways of governance could be applicable to his country - a country that was dirt poor and faced a myriad of challenges in 1965. Yew believed that Singapore had to be selective and embrace only the Western ways of governance that would work in Singapore. 

On Lee Kuan Yew’s style of governance, economist Thomas Sowell wrote, “In short, Lee Kuan Yew was pragmatic rather than ideological. Many observers saw a contradiction between Singapore's free markets and its lack of democracy. But its long serving Prime Minister did not deem its people ready for democracy.”

South Africa also needs pragmatism. The pragmatist style of governance is what will help South Africa surmount its problems of crime, porous borders, bad public education, labor unions that have run amok, and so on.

This country is in desperate need of strong leadership that will take our problems, including the crime crisis, head on, with no fear or favor. 

Ramaphosa must give us this kind of leadership, by replacing Bheki Cele as Minister of Police, and being tough on criminals.

 Phumlani M. Majozi is a banking foreign exchange and treasury business analyst, a non-executive director, and senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.