Reforming a violent society

CRIMINALS in South Africa are not content to simply rob, but also to brutally maim or murder the victim. This indicates that criminals are not only motivated by the proceeds of crime, they also need to satisfy violent and murderous inclinations.

We must therefore reflect on how this violent disposition is cultivated in our society.

Education and schools function to develop the capacities and attitudes of people for harmonious living in a society, exceeding excellence in math, chemistry, literature etc.

By this standard, our education system has failed. Our schools’ curricula ignore meaningful instruction in peaceful coexistence, conflict resolution and opportunities for genuine personal contentment.

For example, do we prepare our pupils to become resilient to the enticements of criminal gangs and the drug culture? Should parental education not be taught in secondary schools in preparation for later roles?

We need to reform our curriculum urgently to address the challenges in the reality of South Africa. Teachers need to put away the textbooks and design relevant learning tasks that require pupils to explore their country and community to find out how things are done; how jobs are created; the indicators of justice and oppression, and the hidden agendas that often underlie public decisions. They must learn to become outspoken critics of wrongdoing.

Another agent of this is the impact of the operations of public institutions on the people. When members of the State apparatus use their power to marginalise the poor and disadvantaged, resentment results, leading to increased criminal activity.

When elected leaders ignore the needs of the poor and money is spent on useless projects to appease a few, you develop a setting for crime.

The Police Service is another powerful agent of this. When police fail to prosecute those who break the law, people realize there are no consequences for lawlessness and become blatant. For example, vendors have taken over the pavements. Players of loud music from taxis invade the peace of the citizens for fun. Pirated materials are openly sold on the pavements. Every main road has become a taxi stand.

The authorities and the police must strive to create an environment of order by addressing even the smallest of violations, so that more horrible crimes will become out of place.

RUGEN PILLAY,

Durban