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Strangely enough that African ran the risk of using violence in property crimes more than other groups. Violence was used in 20 per cent of all burglaries reported to the survey. Also more than ¾ of all victims of the assault, rape and murder in Johannesburg were also African living and working in townships. Also there was found that most victims of crime in Johannesburg had been a victim of the same crime more than once. This suggests that environment in which people live and work as well as their socioeconomic circumstances “trap” people in circumstances that compound their risk of victimization.
So what were the reasons for such boom of crime? “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 (Simpson, 1999). This still continuing marginalization doesn’t give possibility for some groups to access the economic power of the town. Only the privileged few have an access to the benefits of urban life. According to the extent of this access privileged people have the hierarchy. This category of people live in good hoses, have enough money to satisfy their and theirs family 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, unprivileged citizen struggle against social and economic marginalization. This can be clearly seen on the example of illegal occupation of land and houses, taxi wars and disputes among street hawkers and squatters.” Much of the experience of sustained marginalization in Johannesburg erupts through violent struggles over rights to access to the basic benefits and amenities of urban life.” (Palmary, 2003) Most of migrants 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 number of factors that lead to increased levels of crime. They include such points as:
1. poverty and unemployment deriving from social exclusion, particularly among young people;
2. dysfunctional families with pour parenting, domestic violence and parental conflicts;
3. social valuation of a culture of violence – where violence has become sanctioned as a normative vehicle fro the assertion of power or to attain change in a society or community;
4. easy access to facilitating factors in violent crime, such as firearms, alcohol and drugs;
5. discrimination and exclusion deriving from sexist; racist or other forms of oppression;
6. degradation of urban environments and social bonds.
Most of these characteristics can be ascribed to Johannesburg. This city considered to be the social capital of South Africa Republic. It means that people have an access to goods and services that they could not otherwise access and also social capital can provide strong protection against crime. And the breakdown of the social capital often gives rise to crime increasing.
The system of apartheid did enormous damage to the Johannesburg fabric of social relations within urban communities through its repressive manipulations and crude social engineering. The devastation of family life in general, destroying of schools and places of creative learning, nondelivery of recreational opportunities in a result brought the increasing and more untenable disparities between the very rich minority and very poor majority. “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, 2003)
Of course, such violence attitude to some groups of people had an influence on the crime situation in Johannesburg in the post apartheid period.
In 1976 large-scale violence broke out. The Soweto Students’ Representative Council organized protests against the use of Afrikaans (regarded as the language of the oppressor) in Black schools. Police opened fire on a student march and over the next 12 months more than 1000 people were dieing fighting the apartheid system. This event is a very good illustration of violent arrangements which government and police launched to put down the mutiny of angry inhabitants whose rights were interfered without their agreement.
The one account factor which made the level of violence crimes in Johannesburg so high is the availability of weapon and firearms in particular. The possibility to die from the firearm shot on the streets of Johannesburg is the highest than in other cities of the world.
Research into crime 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. This research suggested that people in Johannesburg who carry a firearm are at greater risk of becoming a victim of violence.
Research by CSVR also invented that the schools of Greater Johannesburg have the high prevalence of guns is also common there, because both teachers and students are complaining for the high crime level in the city and are claiming to need firearms for protection against one another as well as from intrusion of gangs into the schoolyards. So the students want to defend themselves from the teacher and the teachers likewise.
The government of Johannesburg has an initiative to create “gun free zones” in schools. And this project has already brought results: 21 schools in Soweto are “gun free”.
This project in future will be applied in the whole city. The reason for this is 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 and therefore more of a strain on economic and social recourses.
Police also doesn’t take enough measures to low the level of crime in Johannesburg. And this fact criminal confidence in their impunity.
So gathering all this facts, it can be said that the apartheid made a great influence under the crime situation of the whole South Africa Republic and particularly under the Johannesburg city which became the “crime capital” of the country and a fearful city for local inhabitants and tourists, because of its high violent crime rates. Also this reflected on the economic of the city. The central part of the town in nearest future will be in ruins, because during last 10 years no new building was built. When the white people leaved this district they lest all buildings to the Black excepting telecommunication station, which the Black didn’t need.
In the past this district was a business center of the city with skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants and cinemas. Today the center made depress impression upon visitors: houses with broken windows, absolutely polluted streets and strangers with guns.
The continuing 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 no normal families and abnormal life. People don’t believe each other and are always ready for repulsing the attack of criminal.
However nowadays the crime situation in Johannesburg is much better than it was in 1990’s and more tourist and migrants are going there. The measures of government for stabilization the crime situation 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 gives a possibility to police to control the order on the streets. This measure was made before the U.N.O. summit, and is ctively used nowadays.
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