A total of 18 683 people were violently killed between 2015 and 2016 which means that 51 people are murdered daily in the country.
This was according to the general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), Zwelinzima Vavi, when he delivered his keynote address during the two-day annual Policing and Social Justice Dialogue organised by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) with various organisations on Thursday September 28, at Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha.
The purpose of the dialogue was to afford a platform to the residents to raise their concerns with issues relating to social justice and safety.
Mr Vavi said South Africa was rated second out of the five countries in the world with the highest number of killings. Syria was number one.
He said this was a shocking revelation, adding that the country was in a civil war with itself and argued that this was a disgrace.
He said he fully understood the situation facing the residents of Khayelitsha because his niece was violently killed in the area and her killers were yet to be arrested.
He said he was one of the people who testified during the policing commission of inquiry in Khayelitsha.
He claimed that the chances of crime perpetrators being arrested were below 50 percent and it was only 42 percent of those who committed crime that had been arrested. However, he argued that less than 30 percent of crime perpetrators appeared in court while 13 percent were convicted successfully.
Mr Vavi argued that only 11 percent of people who commited rape were arrested and the rest were left roaming freely in the society continuing to rape people.
He described poverty and unemployment as some of the main factors that propelled people to commit crime, sometimes to put food on the table. He said most black people in prison were the product of a dysfunctional and collapsed society.
He said white people and the elite in prisons were only arrested for corruption and money laundering. However, he emphasised that he did not defend nor condone crime, but highlighted poverty could drive a person to anything and their decisions are often short-sighted.
But he lambasted rapists who rape babies and senior citizens, labelling them as animals who did not have the right to live with other human beings.
“The life of a black person is not considered to have value like other people. The conditions which black people are subjected to are inhumane. The country has an abundance of resources but the government cares less about the lives of black people,” he said.
He said the country was among those with the biggest inequality gaps between the haves and have nots.
Mr Vavi said dialogues like these were important to hold the government to account and champion the needs of the poor.
SJC researcher, Dali Weyers, said they had been having issues with some of the recommendations of the Khayelitsha police inquiry not being implemented.
He highlighted that the unequal distribution of police resources was one of the main problems they faced and believed that if this recommendation were implemented, it had the potential to unlock other recommendations.
He argued that the commission discovered that the allocation of police resources in the townships were irrational and discriminatory against poor black African communities.
“The mayor has allocated an additional R40 million for street lighting in Khayelitsha for a period of five years. We praise this effort by the mayor but we think it is not going to be sufficient to supply Khayelitsha with the kind of lighting that other suburbs such as Claremont, Sea Point and Mitchell’s Plain have,” he said.
Resident Nadia Mnguni said platforms like this dialogue addressed the issues of injustice and inequality. She said she hopes the government heard their pleas for better allocation of resources and made Khayelitsha a better and safe place to live in.