The debate of South Africa's increasing crime rate took a dramatic turn after the house of a political icon and a chief was burgled and several valuable items stolen. Five men were reportedly arrested when they broke into the mansion of chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi who is the leader of the Inkatha Freedom party. This comes after a lightening rod in one of President Thabo Mbeki's homes worth over five thousand dollars was recently reported stolen.
Some South Africans are worried about the escalating crime wave and are calling on President Thabo Mbeki to act decisively as a matter of urgency to end the ever-increasing crime rate in the country. They say if not dealt with it could tarnish the image of the country ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
Zwelethu Jaolobe is a South African political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that something needs to be urgently done to end the country's crime rate.
"I think we have to look at the issue of crime in South Africa in a much more general level. Most people tend to forget that South Africa is still under transition, and one of the most important legacies of our history is that the end of apartheid was very violent. And if one remembers the early 90s, especially there was really an enormous amount of increase in violence generally. But subsequently you had a major transformation of the police services and over all general level of policing, and I think that that has tended to coincide with the carry over of those violence in the 1990s into the post 94 era. It is important to note that over the last five years or so it has stabilized," Jaolobe noted.
He said criticisms leveled against the police over the increasing crime rate are accurate.
"Yes I think that it is. I think that if we look at the police services, they have gone under an enormous transformation processes over the last 10 years or so. And I think that part of the significance of the issues they have had you know how does one transform a police service that for many years was not truly police democracy to one that does? It means that if we were to actually examine some of the fundamental issues, you would see that some of them did a good job and others should be blamed for a poor job done," he said.
Jaolobe said President Thabo Mbeki could live up to his promise of cracking down on the increasing crime wave ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
"If we look at the way the police services, not only the police services, but the whole criminal justice system and how it has been able to deal with various extreme levels of crime within the context of a transition, I think that they have done quite well. But I think we may commend the police at one level can in no way justify the high level of crime that we see anywhere. And so, what I'm saying is that I don't think South Africa would have completely got the issue of crime under control by the time the world cup comes. But I think if you look at the current trends, the level of crime has been reducing considerably," Jaolobe pointed out.