Friday, May 1, 2009


Crime in South Africa: Who is responsible?

It is not a problem for experts on crime to have the answers. I write this article from a layman’s point of view, as someone who has been observing and listening to a few Zimbabwean individuals who have been victims of crime in South Africa for the last ten days I have been in this country. I may be accused of being an arm chair theorist. Nevertheless I will share with you my brief insight into what I have always suspected was also contributing to crime in SA.

While it is believed that South Africa is one of the worst crime ridden nations in the world it is also fair to look at the allegation with some critical introspection. South Africa plays host to many nationals from across Africa and other countries world wide. We will take special interest on nationals from the African continent. The continent is poor and those who migrate to the rich SA include criminals among them. SA’s guests range from genuine migrants to criminals. It is correct to say that SA has benefited from the cream of Africa. It has also suffered from many criminals from across the continent that have settled in this country.

Just imagine the criminals of Africa assembling in SA! They in turn scramble for crime in different parts of this land. Everywhere you go you see Nigerians, Somalians, Congolese and Zimbabweans. I have mentioned these four countries to represent the four regions of Africa, namely West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa. I am convinced that the majority of Zimbabwean criminals left their country and the biggest number must be in SA. SA police force is therefore not only trying to manage its own criminals but criminals from the rest of the continent.

If criminals are dangerous in their own country what about when they have illegally migrated to another country? The local criminals will in many cases be out done by their guests. African diplomats based in SA should be having difficult time here because they should be trying to portray a positive picture about their citizens. Diplomats would be the last to admit that their own people are causing crime here. It is also tricky for the host country to clear itself from its own criminals. This then becomes a yoyo. Diplomats here will point fingers at SA criminals as the perpetrators of crime. SA government cannot put all the blame on foreign criminals. It is indeed a catch 22 situation.

Whether SA wants it or not it has to play the big brother role. While it is the richest country in Africa it is also the most crime ridden. Is it its riches which have attracted the worst of criminals in the continent? It’s very easy to say the same riches have wooed the best of Africa to this country. The old adage that one cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time applies so well to SA. It is indeed a mixed bag. SA is getting both the best and the worst of Africa.

What I have realized is that while it is very easy to blame SA for the crimes committed here we should also do some self introspection as African people. Zimbabweans I managed to speak to about crime in SA indicated that those who steal from them are Zimbabweans criminals. One Mr Ndoro (not his real name) was going back home for a break. As he disembarked from a local taxi he was approached by two Zimbabweans who greeted him cheerfully. They offered to carry his goods for a small fee of ZAR20 to Park Station where buses to Zimbabwe are taken. Just after approaching a corner Ndoro was accosted by these erstwhile helpers. They demanded that he surrendered all he had in his pockets. Ndoro was amazed at how they knew where money was usually kept. They helped themselves to the ZAR800 he had. They then offered him ZAR70 to find his way in town. Ndoro had to go back to Zimbabwe so he looked for his sister in Johannesburg who gave him money just to go home and come back.

Another Zimbabwean James (not his real name) noticed that after welcoming his wife coming from Zimbabwe at Park Station he was followed by a group of Zimbabweans who were speaking fluent Shona language. Before he arrived at the taxi rank they approached him and asked for money to which he responded that he did not have any. With cheek in mouth they asked him why he had wasted their time. “As compensation just give us little money because you have wasted our time following you and then you tell us you do not have money,” bragged one of the criminals. James behaved like a bouncer and told them off. He could afford to do that because James is heavily built and he played a bouncer and got off the hook at that time. He no longer wants to use that bus station because a repeat of that might be fatal.

As a result of these criminal activities a number of Zimbabwean visitors no longer want to disembark at Park Station in Johannesburg. Many now cut their trips and end in Musina, Polokwane or Pretoria. Johannesburg has become so criminal ridden that a lot of Zimbabwean visitors shun to make it all the way there. They are now being deprived of their right to make choices of places to shop from or just to visit.

If this is the experience of Zimbabweans it should also go for other nationals from countries like Mozambique, Malawi and DRC to mention a few. Thieves from their countries would also cause havoc to their nationals at the time of arrival in SA. A number of visitors are coming for the first time and these are easy prey. Our won criminals are causing untold suffering to innocent travelers coming from their own countries. It is indeed a paradox instead of being welcomed with open arms our hopes are shuttered by our won people. It is sad indeed. It is cruel and inhuman but that is our reality.

SA needs to be protected by SADC countries. These countries should own up and agree that they are contributing to the crime rate in this country because of their citizens who are here illegally and depend on criminal activities. While Africa is benefiting from SA riches it should be prepared to share the criminal blame loaded on it. It would be much lighter for SA to deal with its own criminals rather than tackling the bulk coming from the continent. Putting our heads together as Africa we can help SA to fight crime in this country. Africa, help your own to fight crime so that by 2010 the congregating world will enjoy African hospital at its best when they come for the world games. We can do it. God bless.


Anonymous said...

How I wish foreign nationals in sa would get the picture and be grateful

Anonymous said...

how i wish we could just deport all you foreign scum, you are the most ungrateful people on earth and you jungle apes are ruining our beloved country but sooner or later you will all pay.

A. Makhubu said...

Lets not be too hasty, Yes foreigners are a contributing factor to our increasing crime rates but pointing blame at this point in time is not exactly helping anyone or the situation at hand, finding a solution on the contrary is the tool to use.

Anonymous said...

Lets not be too hasty, Yes foreigners are a contributing factor to our increasing crime rates but pointing blame at this point in time is not exactly helping anyone or the situation at hand, finding a solution on the contrary is the tool to use.