OPINION

SA?s violence can only be stopped by well-organised communities

Ian Cameron says the country has a criminal economy fueled by political greed, complacency and incompetence

South Africa’s unprecedented levels of violence can only be stopped by well-organised communities in 2022

12 January 2022

South Africa is a perfect storm, a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode. South Africa has a criminal economy fueled by political greed, complacency and incompetence all snowballing into the now cancerous criminal infection crawling its way closer and closer to those expecting it least

Unemployment is at an all-time high, gender-based violence numbers make South Africa a global leader with 250 rapes per day, while trust in the South African Government is at an all-time low. South Africa, if purely defined by the state, has become the country representing corruption, bloodshed, destruction and mass poverty.

It may sound unnecessarily pessimistic but let’s call the ANC out as they have almost single handily turned the country into a corrupt cesspool as citizens often live in fear because of the 60 murders that happen every single day.

In the last 48 hours Inanda saw yet another women killed by rapists. Again, this could be ascribed to Gender-Based Violence, but one must ask why a group of boys would repeatedly gang rape an elderly women to point where she died after collapsing in front of a police station. We have a moral fibre pandemic in the country.

It is an embarrassment to see Cyril Ramaphosa as the state president smile as he received part one of the state capture report, basically a summarised biography of the ruling party.

As parliament burnt to ashes because of an incompetent national government, a homeless man was arrested and still not one minister or ANC senior stood in the dock with 49 year old Zandile Mafe as he stared at camera flashes looking bewildered and lost. Mafe has been thrown to the wolves to take the rap for national incompetence. Whether he lit the match or not, he is a scapegoat for a far bigger crisis

It is important to also take note that none of the so-called 12 instigators of the 2021 July riots that brought large parts of the country to its knees have been arrested and charged. Thus the South African government has in effect isolated itself from the people, whether rich or poor, citizens resent them.

We need to understand that service delivery challenges will not simply change due to the ANC losing power in most metros. Sabotage of national key points and local infrastructure is a reality seemingly on the increase too.

It is up to civil society to ensure that South Africa is not faced with the most violent year of the last two decades. 2022 could be the bloodiest year of all as civil unrest and violence will logically increase due to all of the above.

The criminal economy in South Africa is thriving and many who would traditionally not get involved often now choose the criminal route to put food on the table for their families, this is of course no justification for the extreme violence many experience.

The July 2021 riots had at least one major positive outcome, people from all walks of South African society stepped up where the state failed dismally. It set a new standard for the way in which communities can stand up and fight back where government is found lacking.

The South African Police Service will not recover within the next ten years, if there is any improvement whatsoever. This is the same police service where some members have willingly flooded criminal enterprises with state owned firearms whilst the minister of police, Bheki Cele seems hell-bent on disarming law-abiding citizens.

Communities and individuals must take 4 steps to safeguard themselves and prevent their own neighbourhoods from becoming unstable in the near future.

As many community members as possible must be part of a well-coordinated patrol group. Community visibility is a major deterrent of crime and thus also political crime like orchestrated chaos we experienced in 2021. There is no reason for them to not develop a healthy information system that predicts crime trends in order for them to adapt as trends develop and change.

Ensure that a communication channel is developed for by those actively involved in the community safety effort.

Get trained individually but even more so as a community. Group training sessions can equip communities with the know-how, plans and skills they need to manage and coordinate certain incidents. It teaches communities the importance of incident planning for the most effective preparedness.

If you have a firearm for self-defence, carry it with you and make sure you comply with legal requirements and get the appropriate regular training.

South African communities are balancing on a knifes-edge with a total destructive downfall, or a choice to build a safe and sutainable future with hard work on a local level.

A 2024 national election is obviously of considerable importance, but is definitely not the only solution as the current deterioration is to vast to simply depend on others.

We need to roll up our own sleeves for a thriving future.

Ian Cameron leads Action Society’s community safety drive and is an ambassador for Firearms Guardian. Ian is the founder of firearms.co.za.