World Cup can cut SA crime

They have been joined by the usual anti-African brigades who are quite happy to use victims of violent crime to further their own racist ends.

Those embarking on mass action campaigns that are likely to bring suffering to millions have to, if they are at all ethical, follow certain moral rules, largely worked out over the centuries to set the conditions for a just war.

The rules are fairly simple to express: the existing situation must be intolerable and totally unjust; there must be no other possible redress; the chances of success must be fairly high; and the final result must be a better society.

There are groups in South Africa worried about the levels of violent crime in that country. Many in these groups are victims of such crime, or closely related to victims.

Obviously they are going to be angry about what happened to them, obviously they want “someone” to blame, and obviously they want “them”, probably the government, to do something. This is all understandable.

But the action they have decided to take is to trash South Africa’s honour of hosting the 2010 World Cup soccer finals, stop tourists visiting South Africa, especially during the tournament, and generally do their country down.

Looking at the “just war” rules, however, we see that they are acting immorally, since they flunk all four tests and yet are going to deprive hundreds of thousands of their fellow countrymen the chance of employment, if only as a waiter or taxi driver, and damage severely the tourism industry of their country and of its neighbours.

Is the present situation intolerable and totally unjust? Violent crime is a serious problem in South Africa, but most South Africans cope, take precautions and look for solutions. The injustice test does not apply since the crime is not authorised or tolerated by the state but comes from those defying the state.

Is there no other redress? Well, there is. Applying pressure on the government and police is one area.

But the World Cup gives these victims of crime a superb opportunity to have the problem fixed. Pointing out to the government that it will do South Africa’s image untold harm if thousands of tourists are robbed and hundreds raped, they can suggest that something is done, and done promptly. This would be a far cleverer, as well as more ethical, approach to the problem.

Is the campaign likely to be successful? Well, if success is measured by how well you trash your country and create failure, there is a modest chance.

It must be noted, however, that even this dirty aim is very uncertain. If the aim is to get crime levels down, then the campaign starts off as a failure. Making sure South Africa has less money and fewer jobs is a guarantee of more crime, not less.

So the final test is also flunked. South Africa without the World Cup will be a lower-morale society, a poorer society and a society with fewer jobs, a weaker currency and more crime.

There are all sorts of ways to translate a tourism boom into less crime. More jobs automatically mean fewer criminals, cutting the problem on the supply side; more taxes from tourism means more can be spent on the police and security, cutting the problem on the enforcement side.

It might even be possible to raise some sort of tourism levy from the boom that can be used to boost security for tourists and cut crime generally.

Tourism is one of the most labour-intensive industries known and is a wonderful way, as many countries have discovered, to absorb hundreds of thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled people into fairly decent jobs.

And while South Africa is short of skills, it has far too many who are unskilled and unemployed.

So while the anger of crime victims in South Africa is understandable, their action is immoral. They need to use the World Cup, just as others in South Africa plan to use it, to create a better society.

The actions of others is not only impossible to understand, it is totally evil. They care nothing for South Africa or its problems. They simply want the World Cup in a largely white country, and, with two of the last three Cups in Europe, have had to plump for Australia as a second best. South Africa finds itself in good company. This crowd were totally opposed to the Japan-South Korea hosting four years ago.

Unfortunately, the angry and frightened South Africans are feeding this crowd.

We hope that the South African Government will differentiate between racists and crime victims. The first group must be fought, as they were fought in Africa’s liberation wars. The second group needs to be hauled in and their help sought to make the Cup a success, not a failure.

They are the faces behind the statistics and must have, between them, some good ideas that will make the Cup a success and their lives simultaneously safer.

South Africa does have a bad crime rate, and among the preparations for the next four years must be measures to cut this significantly. And that is an opportunity those hosting bleeding-heart websites can seize.

July 2006
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