Friday, 16 May 2014

Hijackings in South Africa: Carjack City video

I realise I've been posting too many upbeat things on this blog, so here's a reality check I just stumbled across today.

It comes with a big disclaimer: a video like this will easily leave international visitors feeling as if South Africa is a war-zone, but it's simply not. There IS however a lot of crime, but with sensible precautions and a reasonable amount of luck you can easily live without ever coming into contact with any of it.

As proof of that, I'm 28 years old, have lived in Johannesburg for five years, and now living in Cape Town, and have never personally witnessed a car being hijacked. That being said, my first car *was* stolen out of my office parking lot in Johannesburg, but I was nowhere near it at the time and nobody saw it ... it just vanished.

Similarly, I've never been a victim of a house robbery, but places I've lived nearby have been broken into. The security arrangements where I live are definitely one of my top concerns now, and I pay more than I should on rentals just for that peace-of-mind.

You know what they say about statistics: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. In this case I'd just ask you to put South Africa's crime figures into the context of the country's scale (we have 50 million people living here - over that probably if you count illegal immigrants) and poverty levels. I don't fear for my life every day and 90% of the time my decisions in life allow me to not have to ... other people, like those in this video, are not that fortunate.

How do we address this problem as a society and even international community? If you consider poverty on a global level, there should be a LOT more crime than there is: the fact that we can still all live relatively normal lives is actually an indicator that the majority of the world's poor people have managed to do the right thing and refuse the allure of crime. I have the deepest admiration for those people: being so poor that you cannot support your family, and yet refusing the easy ways out offered by crime shows a level of determination most people never recognise.

One criminal in the video above justifies his actions by talking about 'survival of the fittest', and that's not true. Being a criminal doesn't make you a better man than anybody else. But being a victim of crime doesn't either, nor does being an unthinking part of a capitalist system that marginalises more people than it uplifts.

This isn't going to just go away until we collectively find a sustainable manner of providing for society's most vulnerable. As for what we do about society's greediest - at all levels ... that's a thornier question. Maybe technology has a solution, and a moderated version of the Big Brother State - where the perpetrators of crime are immediately identified through monitoring and biometrics and held accountable - is the only alternative. Live in fear of Government or your fellow citizens: those are your options. Which do you choose?


  1. I believe that the government should provide minimum benefits to the unemployed and parents unable to take up employment when they have to look after kids or the ill. And those benefits should be a bit more substantial than a loaf of bread per day.

    It's so unfortunate how everyone talks about not enough funds to support decent social schemes, but a lot of the government jobs we see advertised pay a fortune to its employees, which is also sickening. And they drive R1 million cars, and they live the big life while others have nothing. There has to be a higher limit for all job levels and then there should be plenty to spare.

    Another issue I see is the fact that more often than not these days, the employers will hire one person to do 3 jobs and enslave them into working ridiculously long hours, instead of splitting the job into shifts and creating more jobs. It all comes down to greed so maybe a change in the labour legislation regarding working hours and a decent minimum wage would improve the socio-economic situation of a lot of South Africans.

    Keep well!

    1. Very wise Iuliana - care to run for Government?