SA must fight back against barbaric, dehumanising crime


You know your country is broken when the most outrageous, painful, and barbaric acts take place and we all murmur a few words, shrug, and move on.

We are so brutalised as a country and as a people that we do not realise just how abnormal we have become.

Our situation has dehumanised us. Instead of being outraged and being moved to action, we just move on. Tragedy, barbarism, are normal.

Late on Friday evening, five-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane heard his father’s Toyota Hilux driving into the family yard.

Excited, he ran out of their house in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, to welcome his father home.

Criminals were lying in wait. As the senior Phalane stopped, they rushed him to hijack his car.

These criminals, these dehumanised individuals, started shooting.

According to police, the unconfirmed number of armed suspects “shot the five-year-old boy” who was coming out to welcome his father. He later died in hospital.

Let me say that again. Ditebogo Junior Phalane was five years old. He was excited to see his father.

You can imagine the smile on his face. Then he was shot and killed in cold blood.

For a few days there will be news reports about the killing.

A police official will go to the funeral and vow action.

Then we will all go about our business, forgetting about the murdered five-year-old, forgetting about his family, forgetting about the pain they have suffered.

The brutal reality is that Phalane, or the many other victims of crime in our communities across the country, should not be dead.

Crime has been a major problem in our society for decades now, and yet we have failed to curb it.

Every year, murder, rape, attacks on women, and many other crimes continue to increase. No improvement is recorded.

For months now, some of us have been highlighting the rampant crime in Soshanguve, a place which is ruled by criminals.

Just weeks ago, I wrote here about places like Jukulyn, where police fear to enter and even a bread truck is escorted by armed security personnel to deliver its product to shops.

There are areas of Soshanguve where police often refuse to go.

On New Year’s Eve, four people were killed in a shooting in Jukulyn, a section of Soshanguve notorious for violence.

Several suspects have been arrested, but the place remains dystopian.

Residents live in fear, muggings and shootings are common and officialdom is scared of the place.

Three weeks ago, popular DJ and comedian Peter “Mashata” Mabuse was shot dead in the township.

Many who know the area just shook their heads in despair: crime is so common, so everyday, that when someone is touched by it we just accept.

I write about Soshanguve not because it is special, but because it is the norm.

As politicians criss-cross the country making all sorts of promises, it is worth remembering that the cries of the people of Soshanguve — and many other places across the country in villages and townships — have been ignored again and again.

Crime has now become so normalised that our people suffer it, die by it, and the rest of us — the survivors — just keep going.

I don’t see crime being addressed by politicians as a major issue in these elections.

Yet, what it takes away from this country — aside from our humanity — is massive.

Think of the extremely violent construction mafias that now run Soshanguve.

Many property developers will tell you that when they are about to start developments in the township, these criminal gangs arrive and threaten mayhem unless they are given a piece of the action.

It is extortion on a grand scale.

For example, plans to build a district hospital in Soshanguve — meaning jobs and a much-needed facility for the community — have been shelved for years because of violence threatened by these mafias.

The entire district from Soshanguve through to Temba, Hammanskraal, is filled with abandoned infrastructure projects brought to a halt by these mafias.

The authorities have done nothing about them.

Crime has been at crisis levels for years, but our politicians don’t want to see it, acknowledge it, or do anything about it.

Communities die alone, bury our people alone, and our politicians fail to raise a finger.

We now live with this terrible crime as if it is normal to live like this.

It is not, and we need to fight back against this dehumanising of our people.

From Khayelitsha to Soshanguve, from KwaMashu to Soweto, it really is time that we voted out people who don’t care about us.

The murder of a five-year-old, an innocent child, should galvanise us to break the silence and end our own dehumanisation.

Safety is a fundamental human right.

Why are we allowing the criminals, and the politicians who aid and abet them, to take it away from us?


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