Violence seen as acceptable in S.Africa

November 9, 2010 12:00 am

, CAPE TOWN, Nov 9 – South Africa\’s high level of violent crime is driven by a culture of violence and criminality in which the use of brute force has become acceptable, a new study showed on Tuesday.

The state-commissioned study on the violent nature of crime in South Africa, which averages 46 murders a day, highlights problems of young male urban criminals, widespread use of weapons and involvement in multiple crimes.

"We are regarded as one of the most violent societies in the world and that is based on evidence," said Adele Kirsten, executive director of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) which authored the report.

"We believe violence is a learned behaviour. One gets socialised into accepting violence as an acceptable means of resolving conflict and difference."

The 3.5 million rand (510,000 dollars, 368,000 euros) six part report was commissioned by the police ministry three years ago to unpack South Africa having one of the world\’s most violent societies.

South Africa had faced centuries of violence due to its colonial and apartheid past, said Kirsten adding that "in our country we have begun to see violence as normative".

"We see it as acceptable to use violence to deal with differences and more importantly, we have begun to see it as legitimate. It is seen that you have a right to use violence," Kirsten told parliament\’s police portfolio committee.

There was no single cause for violence, she said.

Some of the reasons given for the culture of violence in the country included inequality, poverty, and joblessness — based on South Africa being one of the world\’s most unequal societies.

Criminal justice system weaknesses, availability of guns and weapons, alcohol and vulnerability of young people who were reared inadequately were also given as causes.

Africa\’s largest economy is plagued by one of the world\’s highest crime rates, with an average 46 killings a day last year — which is nevertheless the lowest level since apartheid ended in 1994.


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