Violent criminals deny us our freedom
In less than a year, voters will have the chance to exercise their democratic right to choose a government that hopefully will help to revive the ideals of the founding father of our new South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
The greatest legacy he left us is the ideals of democracy, freedom, racial harmony and equal opportunities to access the economic benefits of being a South African.
But the promise of a “new dawn” by President Cyril Ramaphosa is unlikely to bring hope for freedom to the many South Africans who are caught up in a life of endemic violence.
We cannot allow the seemingly pervasive culture of violence and lawlessness to define the character of our rainbow nation. The first critical step in our nation’s fight against violence is to protect children and women, who continue to suffer at the hands of criminals.
We are also afflicted by the sudden spike in cash-in-transit robberies, which have almost reached a level at which they threaten the state’s ability to maintain law and order.
It is not just the violently brazen nature of these crimes but also the fact that they make South Africans live in fear. If criminals can throw a bomb at a vehicle in the middle of a highway, then our basic freedom as a society is facing a real threat.
It will require more than an effective policing strategy to root out the increase in the levels of crime, such as the car hijackers who bring misery to the lives of families and the cash-in-transit robbers who run amok among us.
Criminals do not descend from another world. They hide in our neighbourhoods and it is some of us who help them by being silent and not reporting suspects to the police.
We seem to have surrendered our civic responsibilities on the altar of lawlessness and anarchy.
After a decade of misrule under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, we seem to be again struggling to redirect our collective energies towards realising Mandela’s dream of a free, democratic society.
It is self-defeating to view violence against women as separate from the broader culture of violence that has come to characterise the South African way of life. Television images of children weeping because of the brutal killing of their parents are a grim reminder that we need to work harder to protect the right of our children to live in peace and freedom.
The escalation in political killings in KwaZulu-Natal make all of us shiver at the thought of a national election being held in a situation of violence, intimidation and fear. Political killings also discourage young people from venturing into politics as public servants who would contribute to the development of the South Africa they love and want to see grow.
Another threat to our freedom is the public violence that accompanies service delivery protests. This seems to spread among people like wildfire and undermines efforts aimed at building a South Africa in which every citizen will experience the fruits of freedom.
Whoever imagined that the brewing discontent among the residents in Freedom Park and Eldorado Park would in a matter of few days lead to violent blockades on one of the busiest roads in Gauteng?
The R59 has become dangerous for road users. The freedom of people to go to work and earn a living has been violated by protesters who block roads by using debris and burning tyres.
The seriousness of the culture of violent protests was revealed when our television sets showed images of trucks burning on the N3 freeway. We are told that more than 30 were torched by violent protesters, who demanded, among other things, that truck owners should not employ foreigners.
Our collective endeavours aimed at protecting the weak and vulnerable will help us to reclaim our character as a nation. If we all take this huge step, then our greatness as a nation will rise. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
Dr Tutu Faleni is a Democratic Alliance MPL for North West. These are his own views