All SA society has responsibility to prevent crime
Who killed Archie Mabandla: son, father, fiancé, uncle and my friend?
Who bludgeoned Mabandla on November 11 2017, a mere kilometre or so from his home, with a golf club, and left him to die? Who took the decision that he no longer deserved life?
That same night the rugby mad Mabandla and I had watched the Bokke start their dismal 2017 northern campaign.
One year later and the answer remains an open question. The police are yet to visit Mabandla’s mother to interview her regarding the circumstances of his death.
The murderer has (unsurprisingly) not walked into the police station and handed himself in.
The case, it seems, has gone cold. His murderer remains among us.
For most Springbok rugby fans, the end-of-the-year tour to the northern hemisphere is a mixed bag of emotions.
Last year this time we faced off against Ireland in the opening match and our 38-3 loss effectively ended Allister Coetzee’s career. One year later much has changed.
Our narrow 12-11 loss to England had Rassie Erasmus scratching his head about when a shoulder charge isn’t a shoulder charge. And a week later, our 29-26 win over France, after time was up (when has that ever happened?), are early signs that maybe the good luck fairy would be visiting the Bokke more regularly ...
For Mabandla, nothing has changed. He will not have seen Sibusiso Nkosi’s fine tries, nor have seen Bongi Mbonambi crash over to win the game against France.
Mabandla remains a 31year-old into perpetuity.
His fiancée remains unmarried, his now two-year-old son remains fatherless and his mother has still has no answers.
The humble home in Walmer township remains without its main breadwinner.
The township lost a formidable rugby front-ranker, a passionate coach and a devoted pillar of the community.
Who is to blame? Certainly the person who wielded the golf club!
But that person remains unknown and is still at large.
Are the Walmer police station and its detectives to blame? Why, after a year, has Mabandla’s mother still not been interviewed?
Did the detectives do a proper crime scene investigation, a fingerprint analysis and interview any witnesses, or did they simply place the murder docket into a drawer (since the weight of murder cases swamps police resources)?
Nelson Mandela Bay remains second only to Cape Town on the SA murder rate scale. According to SAPS latest crime statistics for the 2017/18 year, 574 murders took place in our city, which brings the overall tally over 11 years to 5,707 people who have been killed across our 15 police precincts.
It may be down on the previous year’s 600 murders, but we still average 519 murders a year, or 1.4 murders a day. We remain one of the world’s most dangerous cities as a result.
Most of the murders consistently take place in four police precincts, Bethelsdorp (127 in 2017/18), Kwazakele (104), New Brighton (85) and Gelvandale (67), with Kwadesi, Motherwell and Kwanobuhle sitting at the 40-murders-a-year mark.
All told, these seven police precincts account for 87% of the city’s murders, which is why many of our citizens may be oblivious to the daily reality others face.
Out of sight, out of mind? Would the tracking down of Mabandla’s killer/s change that?
In the last year, 20,336 people were murdered in SA.
That’s an increase of 6.9% on the 19,016 murders in the previous year. By contrast, farm murders – the focus of much (social) media attention – diminished from 74 murders to 62, a 16% decline.
More people are killed annually in each of three of our city’s police precincts than on all of SA’s farms combined.
To combat this, our police service employs roughly 150,000 policemen and women, 42,000 public servants dedicated to SAPS and 12,000 reservists.
Approximately 62% of these people serve at our 1,146 police stations.
Are they winning?
In 2015, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) estimated a 30% success rate in identifying (not necessarily convicting) murderers. SAPS, in its last annual report, estimates its detection rate for “contact crimes” to be 51%, but that includes murder, assault and robbery. The conclusion is dire. More people are being murdered each year and our police aren’t apprehending the majority of the murderers.
A focus on policing alone as the solution to murder isn’t working.
Nor will apprehending Mabandla’s killer/s bring Mabandla back.
Perhaps we needed to do more in preventing Mabandla from having being killed in the first place?
Ironically, Mabandla led the way. As a rugby coach to the youth of Walmer township he was doing what an ISS study suggests is the answer – giving our youth an alternative, positive reality.
According to the ISS and Open Society Foundation for SA study, the combination of “structural” violence (poverty, lack of quality education, etc) and physical violence, in the absence of warm, trusting relationships, causes complex trauma and lays the basis for further violence.
Children who become violent men are mostly victims themselves – of trauma, racism, bullying, corporal punishment and brutalising institutions.
This violence takes place at home, in our schools and within our communities.
Prison doesn’t deter violent offenders.
The ISS report concludes, “The foundations for violence and criminality are laid one to two decades before society feels the effects.
“The way in which we respond to children who experience violence, neglect and abuse in 2015 (sic) will determine the level of violence we will experience in 2025 (sic).”
Obviously a competent and efficient police force is crucial, but if we want to make a real difference, we must do now what we didn’t sufficiently do 20 years ago. Everyone must do what they can to take care of our youngsters, even if they aren’t your own.