While my heart goes out to the families of the young men that were recently set ablaze in Khayelitsha for allegedly committing crime, I somehow understand the frustration that led to these fateful incidents. Being a victim of crime myself, I know what it does to one’s emotional state.
I have been mugged for quite a number of times and most recently, I was victim to fraud where my entire salary was stolen from me. I will be utterly honest, driven by anger and hurt, I did wish death upon my perpetrators, that’s only natural. Those thoughts were always discarded by the realisation that the death of the criminal will not really reverse the damage done nor will it put an end to crime.
Naturally, the first question that came to my mind when I heard about the incident was “is this a solution?” Will setting fire to the guy bring back the stolen goods, mend the broken heart of the victim and ensure an end to crime?
As it seems, I may be one of the very few people who think setting fire to criminals is no help. This past Saturday I almost got into hot water with taxi commuters when I tried sharing my sentiments on this matter. All I said is that as much as criminals do not have a right to harm us, we also do not have the right to kill, as per the instructions of both our law and religions. This was the biggest mistake of my life! If it was not for the lack of a flammable substance nearby, I would probably be ashes right now.
One girl came up with a strong point though. She said the police are not doing a good job in combating crime so people are resorting to alternative solutions. I believe this is correct. However, my view is that our community is already plagued with so much violence and chaos. I feel using death and fire as means of remedying the situation is actually worsening it.
There are only so much criminals that we can kill, but what we can’t destroy is the source of this evil, which is poverty. That’s the sad truth…