No respect for rule of law

Year after year, this publication has documented disturbingly high incidents of violent incidents turned fatal in Zululand.

Using just the previous 12 months as a yardstick, violence has affected hundreds of thousands of South Africans

For the 2015/16 period alone, 18 673 murders were recorded in a population of just under 55 million in South Africa.

This meant a murder was recorded on average 51.2 times a day, translating into a murder rate of 34 per 100 000 people.

A 4.9% increase from 2014/15, this alarming statistic is about five times the global average.

From the cases reported, a worrying trend has been the apparent failure of law abiding citizens to resolve conflicts amicably.

From road rage to public spats, bar brawls or filling station fights, the end result is bloodshed, often exacerbated by alcohol and substance abuse.

This past weekend an altercation ended in a fatal hit-and-run for a 33-year-old man in Richards Bay.

After an argument, the truck driver sped off, fatally hitting the victim and injuring two other people.

Earlier this month a man was stabbed and beaten after a row at a petrol station, also in Richards Bay.

The fight erupted after a motorist allegedly dinged the car door of another. An apologetic gesture would have easily calmed the situation, but instead a fiery exchange of words aggravated the standoff into a violent brawl.

Car jacks and a spare tyre were some of the weapons used in the senseless attack.

Avoiding what could have been a bloody civil war pre-1994, conciliatory peace talks and negotiations paved the way for a democratic SA.

One would assume that this ideal would be emulated by the majority of patriotic South Africans, but there seems to be a pervasive disrespect for the rule of law.

Rising levels of aggression and racial incitement are often the immediate reaction rather than rational dialogue.

With each year that violence remains prevalent, the number of South Africans who have experienced and witnessed violence increases, and so does the extent of national trauma.

This has serious consequences on the health system, our ability to work together as a nation and our ability to raise a new generation of safe and healthy children.

We need to go back to the drawing board and question why citizens show blatant disregard for our enshrined Constitution and would rather opt for barbaric acts of crime.

It is clear that unless those responsible for making and enforcing laws themselves show respect for the rule of law, we have very little chance at succeeding in reducing violence and crime.

For as long as those holding political office appear to act with impunity, or cynically use the criminal justice system to dodge very serious allegations of the abuse of power and state resources, we cannot reasonably expect South African citizens to respect the law.

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  AUTHOR
Ronelle Ramsamy
Deputy Editor

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