Story-ideas-1011172

Do something about crime and unemployment

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I remember the special times I went strawberry picking at Mooiberge farm in Stellenbosch. First, my in-laws took us, and we ate almost as many strawberries as we collected. It’s a fabulous thing to do while holidaying in the Western Cape. Then, when our kids were little, they loved it too. I recall my youngest with his face covered with strawberry juice as he toddled around, laughing and playing between the rows of bushes. It was wonderful family time.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jun 28, 2018

On this same farm last weekend, the owner Jeffrey Zetler was murdered. He apparently went to the office to pay his workers home when he was stabbed to death. It was his wife’s birthday. My guess is he couldn’t wait for the day to end so he could go home to his brood to have one of those special family times. It is those special moments, picking strawberries or celebrating birthdays, that we keep in our memory banks.

I feel so desperately sad for his wife, whose birthday will never again be a celebration. From now on, it will be a day she will remember as the one on which her soulmate was so horrifically stolen from her and her children.

If a worker or five had a problem with Zetler, was there no other way to sort it out? Was it all about money? Was it drugs?

I have no idea, but what of the value of life? Every life, no matter who is living it and how they are living it, is precious.

Sitting here in the hustle bustle of Johannesburg, which is apparently fast and furious, we imagine life on the coast as peaceful. But somehow, this doesn’t seem to be the case with violent crime.

I know crime happens all the time, but am I wrong in putting two and two together, and saying that this is the third horrific criminal incident in our community in the Western Cape in the past few months?

There was Charles Back, the renowned wine and cheese farmer, who was brutally attacked on his Fairview farm in Paarl in February.

Then there was the callous murder of Rosalie Bloch, 84, and Aubrey Jackson, 96, in their Rosebank home in Cape Town at the beginning of May. Rosalie was a struggle veteran, and gave her life to righting wrongs and fighting for social justice.

And now this…

When Bloch and Jackson died, I called on people to stand up against crime and, more than anything, to make a difference. I felt strongly – and still do – that the government needs to reinstate the specialist police units, and take crime more seriously.

What does calling on people actually do? Not much. Perhaps it might get people thinking, and just maybe, someone will do something.

But what is this crisis of violence in the Western Cape? Is it something specific to that province? Perhaps sitting here in Johannesburg, I wish it were, but I don’t believe that it is specific to that, or any, province.

Is it – as AfriForum claims – a farm-murder crisis? But Rosalie and Aubrey lived in the heart of Cape Town, and were not farmers…

I think we all want to look for scapegoats, and someone or something to blame.

My sense is that it goes back to the socioeconomic roots of our problem – unemployment.

We have an unemployment rate of 26.7%. That is a quarter of the population. In the first three months of this year, StatsSA stated that youth unemployment was 38.2%. In other words, one in three people in the labour market up to the age of 35 does not have a job.

What makes it even sadder is that of those, about 3.3 million are not even being educated or trained – they are simply disengaged from the work force.

According to StatsSA, the unemployment rate among the youth is irrespective of education level. The graduate unemployment rate of those between 15 and 25 is 33.5% and 10% among 25 to 34-year-olds. These numbers are ridiculously high, as is the amount of people who have lost faith that they will find a way of becoming contributing members of society.

What happens to those people? Quite simply, there is the strong likelihood that they will turn to crime. There are not terribly many options, are there?

Having said that, unemployment in the first quarter of this year was lower in Cape Town at 21.7%, than it was in Johannesburg, at 28.2%.

Nevertheless, both are too high.

I believe that there are few people who are born bad. Most of us come into this world with hope and dreams. If at every turn those dreams are dashed, what do we do?

As South Africans, each and every one of us – especially those of us who can afford to help – needs to reach out and lend a hand.

If we can’t employ someone, perhaps we can help train them. If we can’t teach someone, perhaps we can work with them to find a way out of their situation.

In our community, we have so many organisations doing just that. Are you involved? Can you do more?

I know this isn’t going to bring back Jeffrey Zetler and Rosalie Bloch, but it sure beats complaining about crime and the government.

This is something we can tackle, and we do it well. Let’s help bring down the helplessness of joblessness, and give people a reason to live and contribute to this country.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost Maunder

Editor

1 Comment

  1. 1 Dr C D Goldberg 05 Jul
    The key to fight crime and violence is access to food, sustenance, education, training and development, coupled with harsh penalties for offences committed. A Rudi Guiliani zero tolerance approach is what is needed. Also please remember that drug and substance addiction and abuse plays a major role in crime, grime and violence.

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