The crime statistics help us to ask important questions about whether the police and our public representatives are doing their work and why certain neighbourhoods appear to have more crime than others. The statistics are more than a simple litmus test of criminal activity; they are also a comment on the socio-economic trauma that continues to be visited on many communities still held fast in the grip of apartheid’s legacy.
The suburbs ring themselves in growing layers of security to hold back the tide of property-related crime. However, gang violence and substance abuse stalk the townships and ghettos, which were designed to be human dumping grounds.
It’s tragic that people in these communities are not only trapped in them by economic forces, they also do not have the means to put in an alarm system, raise an electric fence or hire an armed-response company.
So you’d think the state would make up for that by at least ensuring that there is more policing in these neighbourhoods. Think again. In Nyanga, which again carries the dubious distinction of being the country’s murder capital, there is one police officer for every 754 residents, well below the national norm of one officer for every 358 residents.