South Africans in crime protest


JF-Expert Member
Feb 11, 2007
South Africans in crime protest
BBC News Online

South African police face an uphill battle against crime
Thousands of South Africans have marched through the capital, Pretoria, to protest against the high crime rate.

Popular actor and comedian Desmond Dube said he was inspired to organise the event, called the "Million Man March", after a neighbour was shot dead.

The protesters handed over a memorandum calling for urgent government action.

The minister who accepted it on President Thabo Mbeki's behalf was drowned out in the chorus of boos as he tried to respond to their concerns.

The march comes a day after local reggae singer Tiny Motho Siluma was shot dead outside his home.

His is the latest in a number of high-profile murders.

In October last year there was outrage when the famous reggae artist Lucky Dube was also shot dead in Johannesburg. He was attacked by armed robbers in a suburb of the city.

'Numbers not important'

The BBC's Peter Greste in Pretoria says the chanting on the march was enthusiastic enough but barely 10,000 people showed up, a tiny fraction of the number that the organisers ambitiously called for.

I am very angry for the future of my children. I don't see any future for my children in South Africa

Female protester

The protestors themselves carried signs reading "Break the silence", "Stop Crime" and "Enough".

"I am very angry for the future of my children. I don't see any future for my children in South Africa," one woman said.

Another protester said numbers did not matter and the march had been a success.

"We did come here and we've shown that the few that came here represent the ones that didn't," he said.

March organiser Desmond Dube, no relation to the late musician Lucky Dube, said a friend of his had a nine-year-old girl who was raped and shot in the head, then a neighbour was shot in front of his gate.

"I think for me that was it," he told the BBC's World Update programme.

"As an artist, as an actor in this country I put tools down and I said I'm going to make sure I do something about this."

A spokeswoman for the ruling African National Congress, Jessie Duarte, expressed his support for the march, saying the government had to work with communities to tackle violence.

"We believe that part of the solution is the unity of the people on the ground," he told the BBC.

"For this very reason we've asked people to revert back to the formation of street committees to root our criminals."

South African President Mbeki has vowed to crack down on crime.

Figures for April to September 2007 showed a slight decrease compared to the same period the year before.

However, there were still nearly 9,000 murders in those six months.

Correspondents say the fight against crime is one of the big challenges facing the South African government.

Robberies and car-jackings are often accompanied by extreme violence involving guns.

The country's many migrants, the recent victims of xenophobic attacks, are frequently blamed by local people for much of South Africa's crime.

The government said 56 people had been killed and more than 650 injured in last month's anti-foreigner violence. At least 70,000 were displaced.
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