South Africa is in the midst of a violent crime crisis. The latest crime statistics puts us on track for over 30 000 murders per annum, and a rate of 50 homicides per 100 000 population. Which makes us the most homicidal nation on Earth.
The total failure of policing and the criminal justice system is to blame for this state of affairs. The rot first became apparent after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. And by October 2018 National Commissioner Khehla Sitole told parliament that the national crime prevention strategy had “collapsed, and it is “impossible” for the SAPS to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
This state failure created a colossal security vacuum, and criminals readily exploited it. As a result South Africa now has among the highest levels of organised crime in the world. And our rapidly rising violent crime rates directly flow from it.
Mafia State Running Rampant and Unchecked
Construction and taxi mafias, gangs and illegal miners (Zama Zamas) are well-established and prolific. They are well-resourced, have captured certain police stations and parts of state security organs, and readily use violence. All of the recent tavern massacres are directly associated with organised crime groups carrying out mafia-style attacks. As are gang hits, taxi route warfare, and other types of so-called “mass shootings”.
The SAPS not only appear entirely powerless to stop them, but are alarmingly themselves actively targeted and attacked in their police stations by criminals raiding for guns and ammunition.
To further exacerbate matters, in many cases corrupt police officers are working directly with the syndicates and supply them with arms. As per Mark Shaw’s book Give us More Guns, corrupt cops literally flooded the gangs with guns stolen out of SAP13 evidence stores and armouries. A practice that continues to this day.
In spite of the problem being well-defined and publicised, there is little meaningful action from the government in taking the syndicates and cartels on.
Zero Consequences for Crime and Violence
Instead, special interest groups and government officials have disingenuously used violent incidents to call for stricter gun control legislation and civilian disarmament. South Africa, which has a civilian rate of firearm ownership of a mere 9.8 guns per 100 people (which is less than half that of Germany, and less than a third that of Austria and Canada) is allegedly suffering from a “proliferation” of guns. A patently and demonstrably false claim.
Civilian-held firearms are not the problem – and the solution does not lie in further regulation or restrictions.
We know, as is supported by independent research from the Wits School of Governance (commissioned by the Civilian Secretariat for Police in 2014), that firearm control legislation has no meaningful impact – if any at all – on crime and violence. Instead the level and strength of policing is the key determining factor that directly influences our murder and violent crime trends.
Pathetically low conviction rates – 15% for murder, 9% for rape, and less than 3% for trio crimes – mean that violence is cheap. There are zero meaningful consequences for criminals using extreme violence to get what they want. Combine this with the high level of dysfunction of the SAPS and crime intelligence, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Government using Violent Crime as the Excuse to Disarm Crime Victims
We must place our focus on addressing and solving the very obvious and agreed-upon problem: our corrupt, criminally-infiltrated, and broken police and criminal justice system. Astoundingly, in defiance of all available evidence and common sense, we are still entertaining public discussions about civilian disarmament.
This is wholly unserious and a waste of time. It is indicative that the persons and organisations in question are captured by blind ideology, and are incapable of adjusting their lenses and hypotheses to suit facts and reality. Instead they are attempting to pervert reality to suit their hypotheses.
We need a solutions-driven approach to fix policing and criminal justice. This is a serious and monumental task. And it will require the whole of civil society’s involvement to get right. Unless we begin this task as a matter of grave urgency, our crime and violence problem will continue worsening beyond the current astronomical level.
But demanding we ban ordinary law-abiding people from defending themselves and their families in what is due to be the most homicidal and dangerous country on Earth is not the solution. It is, however, complete insanity.
Written by Gideon Joubert
Gideon is owner and editor of Paratus.
This piece was originally published by SAGA – the South African Gunowners Association