The cure for crime

Martin van Staden / Midjourney
Martin van Staden / Midjourney

The months slip to weeks, and the weeks slip to days, and suddenly the reality of our election eats at the dark coast of our future. Are we facing Armageddon – or just becoming poorer? Will we stumble on – or descend into war? Will we be ruled by gangsters – or by the rule of law?

The omens are not auspicious. The litany of faults and failures grows ever longer. The solutions suggested by our leaders are ever more fanciful.

Amidst this gloomy prospect I see one bright hope for the future. The Western Cape may sever itself from the rotting national corpse and embark on a new path. If successful, and if full scale civil war can be avoided or won, this southern jewel may yet serve as an example to the rest of the country, exporting practical policies to the poor politicians to its north.

This raises the key issue of what these practical policies should look like. As the DA often demonstrates, the only thing worse than incompetent government is competent government, interfering where it does not belong.

South Africa’s biggest problem is rampant crime. We are at the bottom of the world statistics in almost every category – murders, rapes, thefts, child abuse. A new and independent Western Cape government would inherit this dreadful legacy. Would it deal with it differently than the current government does?

It will not be enough to appoint a man in a funny hat and then throw untold millions his way; tried that, didn’t work. Who will be our Javier Milei, our Nayib Bukele? Who will sweep away the cobwebs of old policies, bad practices, past mistakes? We have the candidates – do they have the courage?

A fundamental change in policing, in law enforcement, in prosecutions, and in imprisonment will be required.

First, cut the number of criminals in half in a single stroke – stop prosecuting victimless crimes, even if doing so is easy and lucrative. Your citizens deserve much more respect. Your police have much more important things to do.

Second, recruit a brand-new police force. You will no longer be bound by racialised legislation and special interests. Make appointments only on merit. Pay only on results. Leave the deadwood to fade away.

Third, deal with the gangs, the syndicates, and the special interests. President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador provides the template for how this can be done, quickly and successfully. Make being a gangster the most dangerous job in the Cape. Plan for resistance. Recruit and pay for mercenaries and security professionals. Show as much pity to the gangs as they show to the populace.

Fourth, recruit a brand-new judiciary. Just as with the police, make appointments only on merit. Review the work history of every incumbent and lose the incompetents. Link pay to successful prosecutions. Leave the deadwood to fade away.

Fifth, take a new approach to imprisonment. Release all those accused of victimless crimes, thus making space for real criminals. Turn prisons into profit centres. Privatise their management, subject to oversight. Prisoners should repay their debt to society. Make prison conditions dependent on behaviour.

Finally, make citizens your partners in the fight against crime. Encourage and support local policing initiatives, such as blockwatches, security companies, and neighbourhood online security groups. Extend the power of arrest to suitably qualified private citizens. Lessen the privileges of the legal profession to charge exorbitant fees and impose endless delays. Allow citizens to choose their own manner of dispute resolution, through private arbitrators, lekgotlas, and juries. Trust your people.

Our problem in South Africa is that we are too law-abiding. We bend over backwards to obey the insane maze of laws, rules, regulations, and directives that flow from the open sewer that is our government. We slavishly obey rules made by crooks to favour crooks, that make criminals of us all.

Let’s do it differently in the independent Western Cape!


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The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author.




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