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In the Republic of South Africa there are fixed the world’s worst levels of violent crime “with 52 people murdered every 24 hours, for an annual murder rate of 43 per 100,000 people. Added to that each year are 200,000 robberies, 55,000 rapes, and half a million cases of assault and attempted murder.”(Lindow, 2008). This fact forces the government of the country to take strong measures to control and prevent the crime. Especially, it concerns Johannesburg, which is well-known as a “crime capital” of South Africa Republic and the most violent city in the world, because it has the highest crime rates in the country
Historically Johannesburg was a dusty settlement of gold prospectors. In 1886 Australian prospector George Harrison discovered gold reefs on the territory of Langlaagte. After these event people from North America, the United Kingdom and Europe began to flock into this settlement. According to this, government of the country decided to build a town, which was named Johannesburg after its first architectures – Johann Rissik and Johann Joubert.
During XX century, especially after the World War II between 1948 and 1994, the National Party government in South Africa enforced in Johannesburg the system of legal racial segregation calls apartheid. This means that all black citizens were moved by force to the new townships “only for black”.
This removal was cruel. For example, the Sophiatown’s black inhabitants were forced out of their homes without any notification. Heavily armed police just pulled them and their belongings out from houses, got to the tracks and conveyed to the new township called Soweto (South Western Townships). And instead of Sophiatown, which was destroyed, government built new white suburb named Triomf.
However the apartheid system included not only forced removal but also the rules, which forbade black people to live, work, set up shops in “white areas” of Johannesburg and even transport and hospitals were segregated. These rules were also applied to white inhabitants, who need a special permit to enter the “black area”.
In 1990’s the racial segregation was disaffirmed, but apartheid had already made a big influence under the relationships between white and black inhabitants of Johannesburg.
Since the 1994 elections, Johannesburg, along with the rest of South Africa, has, in theory, been free of discriminatory laws. The black townships have been integrated into the municipal government system, the city centre is vibrant and inner suburbs have become multiracial. Unfortunately, serious problems remain in post-apartheid Johannesburg.
Disparity between areas of extreme wealth and intense poverty during last 40 years let the world heard about it.
Nowadays even middle class white people from the central part of Johannesburg are obliged to live behind the high fences with high-strength surveillance devices, in houses with security system. People fear to visit such districts as Alexandra or Hillbrow, where the Blacks live, because the risk to become a victim of crime is really high.
Johannesburg has a reputation of violent crime city, however “almost as many property crimes as violent crimes were reported. Of the crimes covered by the survey, 44 per cent were directed against property and 45,5 per cent against people. Since 20 per cent of burglary victims said that violence was used in the course of this crime, fractionally more crimes can be regarded as having been violent.” (Louw, 1998)
1990’s became were the most terrible and cruel years in Johannesburg history. The amount of burglaries, muggings, robberies, assaults that day was so high that people were under the continuing pressure of fear for their lives and lives of their families.
According to the facts based on victims’ experiences, which were reported during 1990’s years, the picture of crime in Johannesburg was so:
• The most common crime, which affects the city’s residents, was burglary. 24% of respondents reported this crime to the survey.
The most widespread kind of burglary is car thefts. The majority of people who drive the car in Johannesburg remember that leaving car on the street is unsafe. In 1990’s «Drive faster, live longer» was favorite slogan of citizen, who were so afraid of strangers on the streets that didn’t even opened the car windows and were always holding their feet on the gas when driving in the town.
Nowadays situation is better, than but not as safe as wanted.
• After burglary, robberies and muggings (16,5%) and assaults (15,5%) were the second most prevalent crimes occurring in Johannesburg according to the survey. It should be noted that majority of assaults were of a serious nature, with 84 per cent involving the use of a weapon. This is significant that only few of violent crimes, and in particular mugging, were reported to the police, hence assault rates were much higher in Johannesburg than official statistics shows.
According to the statistics, crimes pointed at property wound the white and Asian communities (which are generally wealthier than the African and coloured communities), and people living in the suburbs. These people and parts of Johannesburg give the greatest opportunities for theft. “Most Johannesburg residents (over the age of 15 years) are equally at risk of robbery and mugging, although Asians, residents of the inner city and the elderly are slightly more vulnerable. In the case of burglary and car theft, white and Asian people are disproportionately victimized compared to the proportion of the population they represent. 52 per cent of car theft victims reported that the crimes happened near their homes, the majority of which are in the suburbs.” (Louw, 1998) It is unlikely that police patrols can effectively prevent these crimes in the vast suburban areas of Johannesburg. More viable solutions are target hardening and other community-based preventive measures.