Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Crime blogs

Mike Stopforth has a great analysis of the crime blog phenomenon and associated debate that is currently raging. He expresses many of the thoughts I had wanted say when I commented on the DeathofJohannesburg site.


It is the question said...


Thanks for stopping by my sarugbyview blog.

This was my response to Neil Watson on my blog

Mr Watson

I read with alarm that you are launching Your stated aim is to "disillusion and disgust" foreigners. The website will be launched today and is aimed at discouraging foreigners from coming to South Africa because of the crime here.

You have said the website will insist on answers from the world soccer association, Fifa, "Fifa must explain to the international community why the murders of thousands of people were ignored when the 2010 Soccer World Cup was awarded to South Africa."

You have emphasised that the website will exceed all bounds, "We want to expose what the South African press finds sensitive."

I understand that you plan to publish hundreds of photos of gruesome murders - photos the press feel are too sensitive to publish.

Apparently you have not yet been affected by crime, but you feel it is inevitable that you will be.

I share your fears. I live in Johannesburg. When I moved here ten years ago, crime was of epidemic proportions. I have witnessed a gradual improvement and like many, felt that the police were winning the war on crime. Many shocking crimes this year have awakened fears that things are getting worse. I like you have escaped being a victim of crime, something I am profoundly grateful for.

I believe that it is foolish to bury one's head in the sand and pretend crime in South Africa does not exist. I am aware that I live in a society with an abnormally and unacceptably high rate of crime. I believe that our criminal justice system is hopelessly overloaded, inefficient and ineffective. I believe that our country has a culture of ducking accountability and denial of deep issues.

I have posted entries on my weblog, about some of the horrific crimes that have been committed over the last 6 months.

But I fundamentally disagree with your intentions. I love this country. I question whether you do.

I continue to witness the turnaround of this country from the one I grew up in.

In the early nineties, I together with many, wondered if this country would descend into civil war. I even lost friends to the terrorist attacks occurring at the time.

I chose to stay and contribute to our country's rebirth and have watched as the success of its turnaround has gathered pace. Few could have imagined the miracle. As we stood in the queue to vote in the referendum to give transformation our "yes". As we queued with millions voting for the first time. As we watched one of world's greatest sons forgive his captors and wear the rugby jersey of a white captain at the 1995 world cup. As we watched Joshua Thugwane win gold at the Olympics. As we have watched our swimmers rule the world. And as our economy has leapt to life growing at 6%.

I have watched people return to South Africa after having emigrated to other countries. I have employed these people and encouraged others to return, always honestly providing an assessment of the dangers and the benefits of such a move.

I have also encouraged family and friends who have left because of crime. I have seen the effects of crime on a family's psychology first hand as my cousin killed an intruder in his bedroom. I fully understood his emigration choice as he sought a new life where his family would feel safe again.

I also fully realise that should I one day be a victim of violent crime, I might also feel sufficiently threatened that I might seek the safety of foreign shores.

I encounter people daily on the internet who have left South Africa and feel bitter about having had to do so. I meet many more who are even more bitter that whilst they might wish to leave they are unable to do so.

But I also see those who have been victims of crime who have managed to move on and remain committed to this country. I hope that I manage to avoid crime, but should I not, I hope that I might exhibit their bravery.

This country will survive and prosper because of bravery, commitment and optimism. Of course honesty, accountability and consequence will also be crucial to that success.

But our country also requires much to be built. We require a moral regeneration. It will be built on education. Education will require wealth and wealth will require jobs.

This represents massive construction. More than that, a constructive spirit.

And that is what worries me about your project. It is by objective destructive. You wish to turn people away from South Africa. You might justify this as your means of attracting the government's attention through external pressure. But as considerable as your effort is, I believe you have chosen an easy path. For it is always easier to be destructive than play a constructive role.

Our country needs constructive contributions. Indeed perhaps because of the lack thereof, our problems are that much greater today.

There are many ways to play a constructive role. From merely contributing productively to our economy, to volunteering some small contribution to our police force.

In fact almost any contribution will be less than that of the lives that many of our policemen and women have given so tragically in defence of our safety. Some of those stories can also be found on my weblog.

I have wondered what other means you have attempted to engage the problem before your current effort? And I wonder if your considerable effort might not find a better role?




Anti-crime campaign may scare 2010 visitors
SA crime website 'must disgust'
IMC concerned about 'negative' crime website

New anti-crimeexpo sites / posts:

The Unbroken Barometer
Crime Site Gets A Rival - IoL

ATW said...

Great comment. All I want to see is some balance. I have (sadly) detected a sea change in attitudes of many people of late. Much more negativity around. Everyone seems to be saying that crime has reached epidemic proportions all of a sudden? I'm not sure why this is.

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

I like it! Good job. Go on.