BLOG: Crime, far from conquered

So much has been said about the fact that crime in South Africa is spiralling out of control and that criminals and crime syndicates are taking over our streets and backyards.

This is really frightening news and a scenario that should send a chill down the spine of any law-abiding citizen of this country.

But the million dollar question is … have we done enough to rid ourselves of the socio-economic conditions that are so conducive to the breeding of criminals and those crime syndicates that threaten our hard-earned freedom.

The answer is very simple and straight forward. We haven’t. We are doing very little, if anything at all, and if this situation is allowed to continue, I am afraid crime will consume us all.

I was under the impression that when democracy finally dawned in our beautiful country, with grand pronouncements from our erstwhile politicians of azibuyele emasisweni (let’s return to the old ways) thing would change things.

In those olden days, crime was very seldom heard of, let alone committed, as most people, black people, were comfortably on almost the same level of prosperity, or should I call it socio-economic conditions.

In African customs and beliefs, practised over many years if not centuries, if I had a huge herd of cattle and my neighbour or neighbours hardly milked a cow for their children, I would offer two, three or so, head of cows for milk for their children too.

How this was done was that if I gave them each five head of cows, the first batch of five calves born are returned to me when old enough, and those born in the next two rounds are theirs and they then return the five head back to me.

This makes us even. I have my 10 head of cattle and they too have their 10 to start their new herd. A similar modus operandi applied to the cultivation of the fields. We would brew traditional beer, homestead by homestead, and we would go out of our way to plough all the fields of the homesteads in the village.

If we all have cattle and all of our fields are ploughed, who’s going to steal from the other? In all honesty, my neighbour will jealously guard my cattle and crops from thugs, purely because I look after them too. In other words, I am my brother’s keeper.

What’s the use of feeding your dogs in Sandton T-bone steak when your neighbours in Alexandra can hardly put a plate of mogodu or morogo (offal and leafy vegetables) on their dinner tables? The honest truth is that they will steal from you.

What should be addressed is the fatness of some pockets, regardless of the colour of his or her skin.

If those people in Alexandra were given a helping hand to pull them out of the poverty, filth and degradation that obtains in their community, I am sure they will jealously guard the ‘cattle and fields’ of the Sandton residents as they would their own, as they are the beneficiaries of that prosperity too.

What’s the point of owning 10 farms, with millions and millions of cattle, or reaping millions and millions of rands from crops in your endless hectres of fields, yet your employees that toil on your farms and plough your fields hardly earn a survival wage for their labour?

What will they do? Steal from rob you and even conspire to kill you. They will not protect you or let alone jealously guard your property as they do not, genuinely, reap reasonable rewards for their labour.

So, crime fighting must begin with a genuine desire to correct, change and level the socio-economic playing fields in our post-apartheid state.

Sipho Siso

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