My rainbow nation that seems to have lost its shine

Shiveer Ramphal

Everyone knows the story of South Africa and the struggle of liberation from Apartheid, but sadly the fight has not ended. Today, there is a new battle within our country: the struggle against crime.

Unfortunately, fear for our personal safety has plagued the South African way-of-life. Lately, crimes such as rape, murder and kidnapping have drastically increased. In 2019 alone, 52,420 cases of sexual offense have already been reported. However, this number should be greater to reflect the astronomical crime rates in rural, poverty-stricken areas. These offenses often remain unreported, as victims fear possible retaliation from their assailants or communities. In addition, 21,022 cases of murder and 170,979 cases of physical assault have been reported. This, unfortunately, is my home.

From the perspective of a South African, I cannot say I am surprised. The social imbalance and lack of respect for the law forces us to live on the edge. I am always wondering if today, tonight or maybe tomorrow, I will be a victim. We hear gruesome reports about the molestation of young girls, who are subsequently thrown in ditches, cut up and burned. The media reports nothing but murder, abduction, rape and destruction.

We have become a society scarily despondent from these horrific crimes; we hear of them so often and accept that they are part of living in this country. Every night before we sleep, we lock up all of our gates, windows and doors. We switch on the electric fence, as well as the internal and external alarms. Our government seems to acknowledge the fact that South Africa is burning. We have repeatedly addressed the situations we face, yet we are still waiting for action. We watch in despair as politicians fight amongst themselves and ignore the pleas for help from those who are disadvantaged or reliant on the government. Unfortunately in South Africa, you cannot rely on anyone but yourself.

Growing up, we have always been told to always remain on our toes, even in our own homes. We do not know what it is like to walk safely down our city streets or live without walls around us. We do not know what it is like to look through windows without burglar bars.

We are angry, scared and frustrated. Angry at what we have let ourselves become, scared of the violence that defines our nation, but ultimately frustrated because we young people cannot do much to change it. I love South Africa; it is my home, rich in culture and diversity. But we seem to be spiraling into anarchy, and right now, our rainbow seems to be dimming under the grey skies.