Fighting Violent Crime in South Africa

Murder rates in Johannesburg

Although it is one of the most developed countries in Africa, South Africa suffers from extremely high rates of crime, especially those of violent nature.  According to Interpol, the nation has the highest rate of violent crime in the world.  This includes the highest rates of murder and armed robbery.  One major problem causing this high rate of crime is economic conditions within the country.  Most violent crime occurs in metropolitan areas within the country.

The levels of crime, especially in the Guateng province, have prompted the government to take action to prevent crime.  In the late 1990s, the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) was enacted by South Africa’s legislatures.  This act responds to levels of crime that “pose a serious threat to our emerging democracy.”  A major reason why crime runs rampant in the country is the lack of police presence.  In 1994, in accordance with the Constitution, the South African Police Service was implemented.  This service, although inefficient at times, is tasked with controlling and preventing crime throughout the nation.  Over the past 10 years, violent crime has decreased by 44% and the murder rate has fallen significantly.

While crime rates may be decreasing in the nation, there are still many serious problems that must be addressed.  South African woman are still sexually abused at a shocking rate.  This unfortunate fact has earned the nation the reputation of being one of the “rape capitals of the world.”  Although this rate has also dropped significantly in recent years, this is still a concern because it is impossible to control.  Many rapes in Africa go unreported because women do not believe that they will receive justice for their pain.  This fact is illustrated in a BBC article from 2002.  This article states that out of 24,892 rapes reported in South Africa in 2001, only 1,797 resulted in successful convictions.

When we go to South Africa, it will be especially interesting to see how crime affects different communities.  In addition, it will be interesting to witness how women are treated within South African culture.  South Africa is one of the safest, most developed countries in Africa, which can lead to a false sense of security among tourists.  When traveling to South Africa it is important to be diligent and stay alert because of the possibility of crime. I believe that this crime can be mainly attributed to extreme poverty.  The townships surrounding Cape Town and Johannesburg are some of the most impoverished places on earth. Unfortunately, because these people do not have the basic necessities to live, they resort to theft and violent crimes to take what they need to live.

South African Crime Response

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

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One Comment on “Fighting Violent Crime in South Africa

  1. Crime in South Africa certainly feels out of control. I have just returned from Durban. You mention the lack of police presence, I believe the main reason for the problem is overpopulation, too many people too few meaningful jobs. See the youtube video “Nothing in here is worth Dying for …” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELYzecxjGMs

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