So author Annelie Botes has caused a storm with her recent comments over crime and black people.
Now I agree with Mrs Botes on some of her points. Most contact crimes in South Africa are perpetrated by black people. Note I explicitly said contact crimes because the debate over which crimes are more damaging to a country (poverty and social-issue driven crimes like robbery, murder and rape or “behind-the-scenes” white-collar crime like fraud and corruption, especially the under-reported scourge of private-sector fraud and embezzlement) could go on all night. That is not the debate here.
Botes is concerned about violent contact crime. And in her mind she equates that with blacks. Is she wrong? No. And it would be hard for contact crime not to be associated with black people in SA — 80% of the country is black. At least 90% of the poor, unemployed, uneducated, hungry people in SA are black. The ridiculously overwhelming majority of people who grew up in violent, broken communities and in a context where social norms were warped and distorted by a greater national context of oppression, dehumanisation and exploitation are black.
So where are your criminals going to come from if not black people. I wager that if I were to look at crimes of greed such as corporate fraud, large-scale drug smuggling and hijacking syndicates and extortion, you’d find the numbers somewhat at odds with the national demographics. You did not see many black witnesses in trials involving the likes of Glenn Agliotti and the Paparas family. And that is just a natural consequence of our history and context. Maybe as black people become more educated, skilled and think beyond the immediate context, which has so often been their mental prison, maybe then we’ll dominate those crimes too.
Fact is anywhere in the world violent contact crime is a result of backgrounds lacking in education, employment, opportunity and social cohesion. If you want to find the violent muggers, robbers and rapists anywhere in the world, find that demographic. In my nightmares about being hijacked in SA, it’s not a white guy holding the gun to my window. But you bet your ass it would be in Birmingham or Brixton. And you best believe if someone knocks me out from behind and takes my wallet in a New Delhi alley, the assailant in my mind would not have short, curly, kinky hair.
Now, an important question becomes whether Botes’s mooted move to England is motivated by a desire to get away from crime or a desire to get away from black people. England is no better than SA when it comes to violent crime per capita. Yet she cannot wait to get there. Which tells me she is racist, and not only that but she is probably not the best at logical reasoning. I would guess that she uses her experiences and perception of crime to justify racial preconceptions.
Ask a pensioner in Liverpool to describe a hoodlum to you and they will more likely than not be white. Does that make whites inherently dangerous? She says: “The English villages where my kids live don’t even have streetlights and I would walk there in the middle of the night without fear.” Big shock there, affluent sparsely populated areas suffer less crime per capita than urban areas. Never would have seen that coming Mevrou.
Now if she is racist, I am not too fazed. It is hard not to have racial prejudices in a country such as ours. It is damn nearly impossible, in fact. So I would not judge her, or anyone for that fact in isolation. What I would judge her for, is an apparent inability/unwillingness to apply her mind to what she sees. I cannot imagine that she has a background where she received an inferior education and was denied a life where she was free to explore her thoughts and the teachings of others. She is a published, best-selling writer, so to me using her mind cannot be something she struggles with. She maybe just isn’t willing to use it here. And for that, I judge her.
I would like to know from her what her reaction would be she when she got to the UK, she became a victim of crimes perpetuated by broke, unemployed, illiterate white males from broken homes. Where would she move to then? Sri Lanka? And what would she make of the Tamil Tigers then? Australia and its rising yob and drug culture?
We should never hide from the fact that violent crime in SA is mostly perpetuated by blacks. That’s a pretty obvious demographical slam dunk. But it’s very dangerous and very stupid (and the good Lord knows I despise stupidity with an irrational passion) to then infer some sort of inherent nature about people from that. And stupidity is a very dangerous thing.
I hope Mev Botes is not stupid.