The perennial resurgence of criminal activity during the silly season is fuelled largely by the deep-rooted culture of consumerism in our society. How do we annihilate this?
The daredevils of the Wild West prey on the lives of the innocents and those fortunate enough to be working.
Even though crime statistics indicate a drop, there are those crimes that continue to plague our society like a festering sore.
Well-meaning laws have been deliberately exploited by criminals to fulfil their appetite for consumption, from the constitutional provision that any arrested person has to be charged within 48 hours to the right to remain silent «Biggest curse our society faces is the culture of silence on criminals».
Our democracy and all its supportive institutions have been used by foreign citizens in pursuit of acts of sexual perversion with minors and those involved in the sex trade.
It was disgusting to watch Special Assignment, which has become the countrys substitute for investigative policing, screening the arrest of 70 Nigerians charged with child prostitution.
To imagine that our democracy has allowed such perverted acts to reign supreme gives full credence to growing incidents of xenophobia.
As though the proceeds from these illicit acts were going to benefit the economy, only to satisfy insatiable consumption.
Our institutions of justice allied with policing institutions have done superbly well in arresting these criminals.
However, the biggest curse our society is facing is the collective culture of silence on perpetrators of crime.
All criminals reside in the very communities that offer them shelter and, to some extent, a community that also partakes in consuming the illicit loot taken from compliant citizens.
These well-ingrained behaviours could easily undermine our democracy.
How does it happen that one forlorn citizen hits a women from two in the afternoon until six in the evening without any available soul preventing the act or informing the police?
Reckless driving and its partner in crime, impatience, have become very pervasive during the silly season as well as contributing to an extensive element of criminal behaviour.
With more vehicles and less space for negotiating mobility, impatience has led to increasing violence by motorists.
Back in the mid-1980s, societies across the country mobilised against criminal acts with a success that has never been equalled in todays terms.
There was Black Christmas, where drinking alcohol was banned and it achieved an almost 100 percent success rate.
What has changed society so as not to employ those strategies?
We hope that with the announcement that our economy has been growing far higher than initially thought, we could generate more revenue to support institutions that are fighting crime.
While the real risk to both our democracy and economic success story could be relegated to poverty and unemployment, the opportunistic prevalence of criminal activity could prove fatal to the sustainability of our hard-earned democracy.
And while whistle-blowing is encouraged, it is shot through with intimidation, which weakens its noble intention.
To this end, the powers that be need to develop a comprehensive support infrastructure.
Until we substitute the culture of consumption with collective vocal responsibility, criminal activity will be an inevitable parallel to economic success.
By Mandla Maleka
Mandla Maleka is the chief economist at Eskom Treasury. The views expressed are those of the author, not Eskom Treasurys
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