[notice]While on a mission trip to Europe, Port Elizabeth pastor, Afrika Mhlophe, reflects on the problem of crime back home.[/notice]
The crime statistics are out and looks like the Eastern Cape Province is losing the battle on crime. We now have the dubious dishonour of being the murder capital of the country. Sexual assaults are up and now our province is said to be the most dangerous place to live in.
This all comes from stats that have recently been released by the national Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. How did things get to this and what can we do about it? Talking about crime and being an actual victim of crime, as I was when someone broke into our home a few months ago, are two different things. When you walk into your home and find that is has been burgled you feel dejected, angry and very powerless. You ask yourself, how dare someone violate your privacy like that? You may not own a lot of things but I am sure you have worked hard for the things you have and therefore no one has the right to violently take them away from you.
That a person comes from a poor background is no excuse for the evil we have to endure at the hands of these callous criminals. These people do not understand and value the nobility of hard work and the use of one’s brains. They think the world owes them something. The Bible says these people do not rest until they have committed some evil. They are also able to play on our sympathies. I mean I recently helped someone who claimed to have been ostracised by his family because he recently converted to Christianity from Islam. I gave him clothes, food, and money to rent a back room somewhere in Korsten for a month and later I learnt I have been duped. How do people treat God’s name with such disdain? It is like these scam e-mails from a supposedly sickly person who wants to share millions of dollars with you so that you may do God’s work. These people think nothing of quoting scripture and invoking God’s name in these badly written e-mails. They are of a reprobate mind the Bible tells us. Granted, adverse socio-economic conditions can act as a breeding ground for criminals and other social anomalies and misfits. However, the Bible says it is the love of money and not the lack of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.
The same way we defeated apartheid we can also defeat the scourge crime. In the struggle days there was saying that went like, “united we stand but divided we fall.” There was also another one that said, ‘’an injury for one is an injury for all.” This latter one is the workers union’s favourite. They use it successfully to get workers to show solidarity with each other. We need to join hands together against crime. This may mean joining your local Community Police Forum or Neighbourhood watch. I know that neighbourliness is not something most white people practice but it is time we all start it if we are to have safer communities. Individualism is so bad in the formally white suburbs such that I do not know any of my immediate neighbours even though I have been staying in my particular suburb for over a year now. I mean if you knocked in my home looking for the house of my next door neighbours I would not be able to help you because I do not know them. I am therefore admitting my guilt for allowing myself to be assimilated into a culture that is foreign to how I have been brought up.
Here in Europe we are planning to introduce ourselves to our temporary neighbours and plan to bring them a fruit basket as part of that. Our hosts are telling us that such a thing is never done here but we are determined to do it so that we may also have an opportunity to witness about the Lord. I mean we know they are probably already curious about us because there are no other black people staying in this suburb and there couldn’t more than five others in this whole city of Tallin, Estonia. Anyway my point is, it is better to confront crime than to cower from it; to face it rather than run from it. We can try to run but this thing tends to follow us. I mean I don’t stay in New Brighton where you stand more chances of suffering burglary than any other suburb in the Nelson Mandela Metro. I stay in a suburb that falls under the Mount Road policing precinct and this precinct is deemed to be the safest. And yet it is in this suburb where I just suffered burglary where I lost stuff worth tens of thousands of rands.
We must transform our communities because we are agents of transformation. We must expose, educate, report and refuse to derive any benefit from criminality and we must make sure that we ourselves do not perpetuate crime by disobeying traffic laws or doing such things we deem to be insignificant.