How do we solve South Africa’s violent crime problem in the absence of a capable police service?
In this episode of ‘Solutions With David Ansara‘ I speak with Ian Cameron, a community safety specialist with Action Society, a civil society organisation dedicated to improving safety and security in South Africa. Ian is also an ambassador for the #SafeCitizen Campaign.
We start the conversation with a frank assessment of the South African Police Service, an institution in rapid decline.
Starved of resources and subjected to political interference, the police are unable to contain the growing epidemic of violence in our society. Although many good cops remain in the service, they are overwhelmed, under-resourced and poorly led.
This lack of capacity is evidenced by the almost complete breakdown in the SAPS’ DNA registry, which currently has a backlog of over 300,000 cases. As a consequence, many cases of sexual violence and murder have not been prosecuted.
The breakdown in law and order reached its zenith in July 2021, when riots swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Ian notes that well-armed community safety groups were critical in preventing even more damage and chaos, and offers some practical advice for coordinating voluntary safety structures at the community level.
How do we avoid a descent into vigilantism, I ask? Ian says that legislation is in place which governs the conduct of community groups and that this acts as a necessary check on excessive actions. However, more needs to be done to extend and strengthen this governance framework.
Ian’s solution to our law and order problem is to decentralise policing to the provincial and local level. The Western Cape could serve as a model case of devolved policing, he says, given the rampant violence in areas such as Grassy Park in Cape Town, which has the highest citizen-to-police ratio in the country.
My takeaway: Law and order is the bedrock of a free and prosperous society. We cannot wait for politicians to change course. We must adopt an ethos of personal responsibility and take the safety of our families and communities into our own hands.
Written by David Ansara
David Ansara is the Chief Operating Officer of the Centre For Risk Analysis (CRA). In this role, David manages the CRA’s policy research and political risk advisory services. He is also responsible for the CRA’s bespoke projects division.
- Intro (00:38)
- Ian Cameron’s community safety work (02:26)
- Ian Cameron on violent crime in South Africa (04:18)
- Ian Cameron on why the SAPS is failing (06:20)
- Ian Cameron on the SAPS DNA backlog (08:41)
- Ian Cameron on the July riots (10:47)
- Ian Cameron on empowering communities to fight crime (15:18)
- Ian Cameron on responsible firearm ownership (17:25)
- Ian Cameron on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill (19:07)
- Ian Cameron on devolution of policing in the Western Cape (25:18)
- Ian Cameron on what he would do as head of police in the Western Cape (27:59)
- Ian Cameron on the Scorpions (29:55)
- Ian Cameron on preventing vigilantism (32:28)
- Ian Cameron on rural safety and farm murders (34:52)
- Ian Cameron’s work with AfriForum (36:58)
- Ian Cameron’s work with Action Society (38:30)
- Ian Cameron on Western Cape Independence (41:51)
Action Society: https://actionsociety.co.za/