Crime continues unabated

The crime wave in South Africa continues unabated. Over the past weekend worshippers in a mosque in Johannesburg were robbed by six armed men. On our own front many areas in the greater Pretoria suffered at the hands of cable thieves. Certain areas in Centurion had to go without power for almost a week.

According to one commentator, crime in South Africa is no longer an aberration on the fringe of society. It is too pervasive to be regarded as an anomaly that will resolve itself in time and through normal means. It is part of the make-up of our society. Crime has become a sort of class war.

Criminals are simply numerous enough, and their activities by now have enough of an impact on the culture and economy of the nation, and the life of its communities, for them to be considered, legitimately, as a distinct class of persons – a class unwanted and abhorred by the majority – but a class nevertheless.

Criminality has brought into being a sub-economy in South Africa. That portion of it which arises from the illegitimate activities of the criminals exists in tandem with the formal economy. An example of this is the theft of copper cables, which are traded as scrap metal.

The organised syndicates that employ the otherwise unemployable to hijack vehicles or sell drugs create another segment of the sub-economy.

At work here are mirror images of conventional business. The criminal organisations have profit-sharing bosses and salaried employees.

Another segment of the sub-economy is intimately interwoven with the formal economy. It is that shadow economy of white-collar crimes, corruption and tender rigging.

Taking all this into consideration it is no wonder that criminologists are highly pessimistic that the crime problem here will ever be resolved.

We can only try to fight the foot soldiers of crime.

– The City of Tshwane loses at least R30 million a year because of copper cable theft and the municipality is worried about the impact the losses have on service delivery.

From July last year until June this year, 1 299 incidents of cable theft have been reported across the municipality.

Last week, 11 Centurion suburbs were plunged into darkness because of copper cable theft and vandalism at the Brakfontein substation, and after the Kentron substation caught fire on Monday – also because of cable theft.

The metro was not aware how many households had been affected by the outages. City spokesman Selby Bokaba said: “The metro police and the energy and electricity departments are looking into strategies on how to crack down on perpetrators. The approach will not be revealed as the city is wary of alerting lawbreakers to the plan”.

Access control to substations will be improved, with a consideration of deployment of security personnel in all the regions.

Of course this type of crime, which has been described as ‘economic sabotage’ cannot thrive if there is no market for the copper wire. Corrupt scrap metal dealers lie at the heart of the problem.

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Fred Boshoff

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