Crime Stats SA (www.crimestatssa.com) reports that nearly 16000 people were killed in South Africa in the twelve months between 2011/2012. The same website shows that the world average for murder is 7.6 per 100 000 people and SA’s average is five times higher at 36.5 per 100 000 people. The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, recently released the latest crime statistics which show that as a country we are not getting a handle on crime.
Crime is a very emotive issue because almost all of us have been victims of it. This year alone the church I pastor has had five incidences of crime and I understand that the over 5 000 crimes are reported to the SAPS every day. Can you imagine how many go unreported because of disillusionment and lack of confidence in the police? We have not reported four of the crimes we have suffered because of the tardiness of our local police.
As a country we have the dishonour of being the most dangerous place for women and children. Our rape statistics and the sadistic nature of sexual crimes make me ashamed of being a male. Lately I have caught myself wondering into the zone of fear when I consider the safety of my 18 month old daughter. I have to keep reminding myself that beyond the alarm and security gates in my home, God is the ultimate barrier.
Way we treat children
I have to believe this or choose to live a life of paranoia as some South Africans seem to do. Former President Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” What does the way children are treated in SA say about us? On their website, the Medical Research Council (MRC) reports that a child is raped in South Africa every three minutes.
Many people pontificate about the causes of our moral decline and others even suggest that the current government is solely responsible for where we find ourselves right now. Is this true or are people just being simplistic? I have even heard people putting a racial slant to our crime wave and suggesting that white people are being deliberately targeted for genocide. Then there are issues of racial profiling where certain racial groups are seen to have a propensity for crime.
For me such positions distract us from the real issues. Blaming the current government for all our social ills is escapism. For instance, how do we expect the government to police something like the sexual exploitation of children, which is often perperated by close male relatives? Or white-collar crimes and those that are performed in relationships of trust?
We are a heavily policed society with almost double the number of police than we had before the advent of democracy and a far higher budget allocation. Private security companies employ more than double the number of police officers and yet crime is not ceasing. Are there other factors responsible for crime in SA other than socio-economic conditions?
Adverse social conditions and disparities are definitely responsible for some of the crime. For instance, there are more people killed in Nyanga in the Western Cape than anywhere else in the country. The demographic profile of this township is that 99% of its population is black and over 50% is unemployed.
However, I do believe that there are spiritual causes to our declining moral standards. As a nation we have turned away from God and for that we are paying dearly. When I say the nation I also include the Church. I believe much of the Church in my country is backslidden and instead of fervour and faith we have facts and rationalism.
Some people have become armchair theologians who spend their time castigating others while doing nothing to deal with the problems bedevilling our country. We need to check who or what governs our hearts before we agitate for a change in civil government. It is said that people get the leaders they deserve and so a corrupt people will get a corrupt government. A people who lack compassion or commitment to God’s ways will also get a government who is likewise.
I believe when we fully turn to God we will see things turn around in this country. I don’t mean a whimsical once-a-year prayer we do for the nation but a constant heartfelt dedication to the Almighty. God must deliver His Church from indifference, prejudice, and apathy and then the nation.