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According to the statistics, there was ascertained that the most property crimes were perpetrated in the suburbs and in the areas where the rich citizens lived. These people and parts of Johannesburg were the most attractive and gave the greatest opportunities for property burglars. Especially it applied to plundering and car theft. Strangely enough that the black inhabitants of Johannesburg ran the risk of using violence in property crimes more than others. 20% of all burglaries, and also more than ¾ of all assaults, abuses and murders were directed against the Black, who lived and worked in townships or against their property (Louw, 7).
As for the citizens who ran risk of mugging and robbery, the most vulnerable were citizens above the age of 15, including Asians and the Black. The less vulnerable were inner city residents and old people (Louw, 8).
Also it was found that most victims of crime in Johannesburg had been a victim of the same crime more than once (Louw, 8). It means that the environment where people lived and worked as well as their socioeconomic circumstance provided a high risk of victimization
The measures, which police took in the 1990’s, were insufficient to effectively prevent or at least to reduce the number of crimes, particularly in the suburban areas of Johannesburg. Hence, the most criminals were confident in their impunity.
Nowadays Johannesburg has a reputation of the violent crime city. However the number of property crimes is approximately the same as the number of reported facts of violent crime. 45, 5% of stated reports are crimes against people and 44% against property. The majority of property crimes are particularly with the violence (Louw, 7).
What are the reasons for such boom of crime in Johannesburg in the post – apartheid period?
“Despite the formal enfranchisement of the previously disfranchised majority, patterns of social and economic exclusion as well as the distribution of social services are very slowly to change” (Palmary, 101). This non-stop marginalization in the post-apartheid period doesn’t give the possibility for some groups to access the economic power of the town. Only the privileged minority of citizens has an access to the benefits of urban life. They live in good houses, had enough money to satisfy their and their family’s needs and mostly these people govern the economical and political life of the city.
The unprivileged groups of Johannesburg citizens, on the contrary, live in slum areas, where the risk to be robbed or armed assaulted is the highest in the town. Finding a well paid job is a big problem in these areas and people try to survive doing illegal things.
In such situation, the unprivileged citizens begin to struggle against social and economic marginalization. It can be clearly seen on the example of illegal occupation of land and houses, taxi wars and disputes among street hawkers and squatters (Palmary, 102). Most of migrants, living in Johannesburg, also have violence attacks because they are perceived to be responsible for taking local inhabitants’ jobs.
The International Center for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) has identified the factors that become reasons of crime level increase.
1). Poverty and unemployment of local inhabitants as a result of social exclusion (mostly among young people).
2). Availability of weapon, alcohol and drugs, which are the facilitating factors in violent crime.
3). Social valuation of a culture of violence – where violence has become sanctioned as a normative vehicle for the assertion of power or to attain change in a society or community.
4). Dysfunctional families with pour parenting, domestic violence and parental conflicts.
5). Discrimination and exclusion deriving from sexist, racist or other forms of oppression.
6). Degradation of urban environments and social bonds (Palmary, 103-104).
The increasing level of crime in Johannesburg includes all these factors. The city considered to be the social capital of the South Africa Republic. It meant that people had an access to goods and services that they could not otherwise access. Also social capital could provide strong protection against crime and its breakdown often gave base for crime increasing. custom essay
Like in all apartheid cities, the system of racial segregation did the huge damage to the Johannesburg fabric of social relations within urban communities through its repressive manipulations and crude social engineering. Apartheid led to destruction of family life in general. Destroying of schools and places of creative learning, nondelivery of recreational opportunities led to the degradation of Johannesburg social bonds. “The legacy of structural violence embedded in both the destruction of the urban social fabric and the politics of exclusion was further complicated by processes associated with the transition to democracy” (Palmary, 103).
The economy of the city was dilapidated too. The majority of citizens in the post-apartheid Johannesburg became unemployed.
The one more account factor which makes the level of violence crime in Johannesburg so high is the availability of weapon, and firearms in particular. The possibility to die from the firearm shot in the streets of Johannesburg is much higher than in other cities of the world.
The research of crimes in Alexandra Township and the suburb of Brumley showed that 78% of crime victims had their guns stolen during the crime perpetrates against them, with only 22% able to use their gun in self-defense (Palmary, 118). It shows that people in Johannesburg who carry a firearm run the risk to become a victim of violence more than others.
The CSVR research also invented that the schools of Greater Johannesburg have the high prevalence of guns, because both teachers and students complain for the high crime level in the city. They claim about necessity of firearms for protection against one another as well as from intrusion of gangs into the schoolyards (Palmary, 118). So the students want to defend themselves from the teacher and the teachers likewise.
The government of Johannesburg had an initiative to create “gun free zones” in schools. And the project has already brought results: 21 schools in Soweto are “gun free”.
This project in future will be applied in the whole city (Palmary, 119). The main reason for launching this project was the fact that the gun ownership is the second worldwide factor which predicts a high level of violent crime. Moreover, free gun ownership make existing crime more fatal.
Based on all gathered facts, we can come to conclusion that the apartheid system influenced the crime situation in Johannesburg. The city became the crime capital of the country and the fearful place for local inhabitants and tourists, because of its high violent crime rates.
The non-stop marginalization of some groups of people made them cruel and obliged to fight for having access to the simple benefits of urban life. There are only a few normal families and abnormal life. People don’t believe each other and are always ready for repulsing the attack of criminal.
Nowadays the middle class of the 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 are afraid to visit such districts as Alexandra or Hillbrow, where the Blacks live, because the risk to become a victim of crime is really high there.
The downturn in the urban economy affected the appearance of the whole Johannesburg. In the past the central district was a business center of the city with skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants and cinemas. Today the central part of Johannesburg makes depress impression upon visitors: houses with broken windows, absolutely polluted streets and strangers with guns. This fact doesn’t attract many tourists and investors. As a result the majority of residents don’t have enough working places. So they plunder other’s property.
However, the current crime situation in Johannesburg is much better than it was in 1990’s and more tourist and migrants goes there. The measures of government for stabilization the crime level in Johannesburg began to work. People can walk down the streets or driving their cars easier. Everywhere in the central part of the city there are a lot of high-strength surveillance video cameras which give a possibility to the police to control the order on the streets.
Nevertheless, Johannesburg’s discriminated inhabitants will always remember the humiliation and oppression they were exposed for 40 years of apartheid system management. And the city will have the bad crime reputation for a long time.
Dirsuweit, Teresa. Johannesburg: fearful city? Urban Forum, Springer Netherlands 1 Jan, 2002
Lindow, Megan. Anti-Immigrant Terror in South Africa. Time Magazine. May 20, 2008
Louw Antoinette, M. Shaw, L. Camerer and Rory Robertshaw. Crime in Johannesburg: Results of a City Victim Survey. ISS Monograph Series 8. February 1998
Palmary, Ingrid, Janine Rauch and Graeme Simpson. “Violent Crime in Johannesburg.” Emerging Johannesburg. Perspectives on the post apartheid city. Routledge, 2003
Simpson, G. Rebuilding fractured societies: reconstruction and the changing nature of violence – some self–critical insights from post apartheid South Africa. Research report commissioned by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 1999.
Wines, Michael. Johannesburg Rises Above Its Apartheid Past. The New York Times. July 16, 2006