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Ramaphosa: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

It was time to organise South Africans for another struggle, this time against crime, businessman Cyril Ramaphosa said in Midrand on Thursday.

SA’s Constitution emerged from a struggle to overcome evil. ”And we did overcome”, Ramaphosa said at the conclusion of a four-day Action for a Safe Society convention attended by representatives of almost 300 organisations.

Ramaphosa said at the advent of democracy, South Africans had been determined to overcome any challenge they might face.

”We have not lost that capacity. Indeed, the last decade and more has demonstrated that we are able to work together to build our economy, to provide for the most basic needs of millions of our people, to make unprecedented advances in access to healthcare and education.”

”We have been able, working together, to play a leading role in the reconstruction of our continent and in forging a better world. We have not lost that capacity. But we are called upon now to rediscover that capacity as we turn our attention to tackling crime and to building a safe, peaceful and stable society.

”We must recapture the spirit of determination that has allowed us to achieve so much already, so that we may work together to defeat this scourge.”

He said crime, violence and abuse struck at the core of the nation, undermining the integrity of every citizen and poisoning the relations between them.

”Despite our best efforts, people do not feel safe and so many have been victims of crime that everyone feels [like] a victim.”

Ramaphosa said the way to defeat violent crime was not to descend into fear but to harness the determination of the country’s people.

”It is time to organise our people for struggle once again. It is time to find one another’s humanity and the common aspirations which will forge alliances between strangers and between unlikely allies.

”It is time to rediscover the leadership strengths among the ordinary people of our country and to ask them to stand up and be counted.”

Ramaphosa said efforts to eradicate the legacy of apartheid were being undermined by violence and criminality.

”It undermines our ability to build a better life — for what is a better life if it is not safe?”

”We are working to build a united nation at peace with ourselves and the world, and we cannot allow criminal violence to divert us from our path.”

Action for a Safe Society project leader Roelf Meyer said the campaign was not about providing quick fixes, but achieving specific, deliverable targets within the next three to five years.

A charter developed by the convention notes that crime and violence remained obstacles to rectifying the socioeconomic climate.

While it acknowledged that it is important to fix the criminal justice system, it also concedes that an overburdened system will not be able to provide justice for all.

Describing the problem of violent crime as ”complex”, Meyer said research indicated that one of the factors found to play a role was the political violence of the past.

Institute for a Democratic South Africa (Idasa) crime prevention research leader Barbara Holtmann said children who witnessed violence sometimes became violent when they grew up.

She said it was a fact that South Africa had a history of violence and people used violence to deal with conflict, anger, isolation, grief and political tension.

”We need to break that cycle now with people of all ages.” – Sapa

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