OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA ON CRIME IN SOUTH AFRICA

Dear Mr President,

I am taking off all my professional hats and writing to you in desperation as a South African citizen deeply concerned about the levels of crime in our country.

I write as one of the countless citizens that have fallen victim to crime with the shadow of fear following our every step.

I write to you with a heavy heart for the many men, women and children whose lives are lost or destroyed by crime.

I write to you amidst the brazen war on our men and women in blue that are being sadly killed like dogs in our streets.

I implore you to imagine being an ordinary citizen without the benefit of a security detail and every measure protecting me from threats at my home, my workplace, on the street, in public spaces and in my car.

I urge you to imagine living in fear all the time. This is the environment that millions of citizens are living in.

When we raise our voices about the serious levels of crime we are accused by some of being alarmist and spreading panic across the country.

There is no doubt that the number of crimes reported in the media and on social media platforms have increased. Many incidents don’t make the media agenda at all.

You have to be blind to reality if you miss the desperation of citizens and the equal helplessness of law enforcement.

You recently attended and spoke at the South African Police Service (SAPS) National Commemoration Service at the Union Buildings.

You said that an attack on our police is an attack on the state.

Mr President, your assessment is correct, but talk is empty. What is being done?

Many members of the public have lost faith in the police and the criminal justice system.

Widespread corruption, poor leadership and bad service delivery has eaten away at the respect that these institutions should be able to demand.

You have employed poor leadership to key positions. The consequences are felt across the board.

The Marikana Massacre has done untold damage to the image of the police. The outcomes from the Farlam Commission was damning for the SAPS. We still have to see accountability. Many have blood on their hands and they must be brought to book without delay.

There has been no real justice for the families left destitute at the loss of breadwinners and loved ones.

Precious time and resources are spent to keep disgraced officials in their positions, purely just staving off the inevitable.

How do you expect the public to continue respecting these institutions?

How do you expect police officers to feel proud to wear the badge when their lives mean so little, reduced to lip service in an eloquent speech and another name on the commemoration wall?

The lives of our citizens count for even less it seems. Some 47 South Africans are murdered on average every day.

Mr President, I hope you will be proud of the many communities and individuals that are standing up and refusing to yield to the onslaught of crime.

Once again your citizens have to take responsibility for a problem that the state should be tackling with all means at its disposal.

The rot is so widespread, the stink overwhelming.

Desperate times need desperate solutions.

Even the most persistent and active individual can’t even hope to win a battle we are losing by virtue of a complete lack of political will to DO something about crime.

Mr President, you are the one person that can turn this around.

Stop catering to the politically ambitious. In fact, leave politics out of key appointments and deploy people who can do the job and act beyond reproach.

Stop patting mediocrity, uselessness and corruption on the back, sending their servants on their way with a golden handshake.

Listen to your people who are the terrorised and persecuted.

Prescribe to these internationally recognised leadership principles….

Model the way – set an example by adhering to and advancing the rights and responsibilities contained in our Constitution. Show zero tolerance to those who seek to destroy it.

Inspire a shared vision – Mr President you can make a difference. Believe it and make others believe in the vision of a safe and prosperous South Africa.

Challenge the process – Hold those who you put in place to lead their respective departments to account. If they don’t perform, they are detrimental to change and stand in the way of moving the country forward. Why should the entire country suffer one fool?

Enable others to act – Make it possible for others to make a difference. Create an environment where citizens can be heard and their ideas implemented.

Encourage the heart – Reward those who you have enabled to achieve our shared vision. Too many activists and hard workers in and out of government are being persecuted instead of celebrated. The perception that you favour the corrupt is not only detrimental to you, but ultimately impacts negatively on everyone else.

Mr President, I hope that I have been able to adequately convey my concern over the problem we have with crime in this country.

The police must strengthen the partnerships with ordinary citizens, civil society, business and anti-crime activists. Now is the time!

I know that tackling crime means tackling many other problems our country faces.

I am forever hopeful that we can overcome these challenges, but your leadership is critical to achieving this.

I am still a proud citizen of South Africa and will do anything in my power to make a difference. I only ask that the first citizen does the same.

Mr President, will you stand up for us?

YUSUF ABRAMJEE

54 replies
  1. Thabo Moetji
    Thabo Moetji says:

    But this logic that a trained police officer,to comamand the more than 200K men and women in blue, will magically transfom SAPS is falacious. The same leader of the police, has arrested thousands and thousands of trained police officers, some in the top management of the police. This proves, bieng a trained police officer, doesn’t make one to be infallible. That’s my contribution!

    Reply
    • ali akbar
      ali akbar says:

      1630 The Oath of the Office of Constable was published, although it had been administered for some time (UK) – after 400 years – still have difficulty cultivating the right type of policing and command .. this is never easy – as ‘police’ drawn from the wide general population – profile the same social ‘ills’ – best form of policing is improving social conditions

      Reply
  2. Ridwaan
    Ridwaan says:

    Each and every police officer must have a camera on them while being on duty basically like a big brother monitoring them.this will target corruption and strengthen cases of being wrongfully arrested etc.

    Reply
  3. Shabodien Roomanay
    Shabodien Roomanay says:

    Dear Yusuf
    Your Open letter is commendable. The points you make though are those that any self respecting leader should have has inner qualities. He has been unable to or not been allowed to display these. It is too late to plead with him to do what should have come naturally. He needs to step aside to allow someone who has the understanding, compassion and leadership capability to enact all of your points. Naturally…

    Reply
  4. PHILIP METTER
    PHILIP METTER says:

    I MOVED FROM JHB. TO KNYSNA ABOUT 6 WEEKS AGO. DON’T GET 702, DON’T GET CAPE TALK. NO LONGER BUY THE NEWSPAPERS OTHER THAN THE SUNDAY TIMES. I FEEL SAFER HERE THAN JHB. WALKED FROM A FRIEND’S PLACE HOME TWO NIGHTS AGO AT ABOUT 8PM, TOOK ROUGHLY 15 MIN. FELT TOTALLY SECURE, COULD NEVER DO THAT IN JHB. IF YOU CAN GET THE PRES. AND THE CURRENT GOVT. TO MOVE ON CRIME I WILL GIVE YOU A MEDAL.THE BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR ENDEVOURS.

    Reply
  5. Juliet
    Juliet says:

    Leading by example and totally eradicating the system corruptors I believe we will move forward and take the centre stage. Maybe we should revolt and not comply with interational laws and bodies. Maybe if sanctions are opposed on us, South Africans will finally be awakened to greater heights. This is Africa’s time to shine and brime. Fellow citizens have lost faith in leaders who are not upholhing the constituition who are turning a blind eye to what is in front of them. Freedom charter is only on paper nothing else than that

    Reply
  6. Marlene de Beer
    Marlene de Beer says:

    South Africa needs a drastic change all over government. In schools, hospitals, the police, the army. . . all over this country. We are not save in our homes or on streets where you go to work etc. Our hospitals are an extreme mess, I challenge the president to use Sebokeng hospital next time he or his family needs a hospital, see if you would like the poor service. Our schools are over crowded. Police is not doing there work, we as citizens depend on CPF these days. Only one person can make that change NOW! The President!

    Reply
  7. Riyaz
    Riyaz says:

    As commendable as this letter is, I think that as a normal citizen of this country we will never see change as long as we are under the worthlessness of the current leadership! How can you fix anything when they don’t even see a problem! The current leadership does not care about any of their citizens! Our suffering makes no difference to them as long as there pockets are full and their homes are safe with their bodyguards at the door why would they care about the rest of us!
    We see that every single sector in government is failing! Not only the police but education; healthcare; transport; electricity; water; housing yet we keep this current ministers employed and give them promotions for being so useless! Has the anc n Zuma had any successes? Zuma and the anc has totally failed us!
    We the people need to stand up and revolt against this government! We need to show that we are sick and tired and we demand change!
    Let this totally useless Jacob Zuma go to jail for his crime of raping this country and taking us from a country of endless posibilities to a country of total lawlessness! What kind of future can our children see? Are we destined to be just another backward 3rd world African state?

    Reply
  8. Mzukisi
    Mzukisi says:

    Well, I do sympathise with the main thrust of your letter pleading with President Zuma to do something about crime. Indeed leadership requires courage, vision and action. It would seem the president is preoccupied with defending Nkandla and more than 700 odd charges that could be reinstated to care to fix the many challenges we face in this country. My suggestion would be for us as citizens to stand up and start demanding action from government through demonstrations and mass actions. Let’s start by joining the planned march against corruption because corruption is also crime. Whatever happened to our social and political activism?

    Reply
  9. Margaret Naidoo
    Margaret Naidoo says:

    I’m sure nearly the entire nation concurs with Mr Abramjee. Only hope the President takes the time to read the contents of this letter.Whether he takes action is another story. Just my opinion.

    Reply
  10. Ihsaan
    Ihsaan says:

    Thanks for writing the letter. We have a culture of indifference, corruption and arbitrage. This starts at No. 1 himself. How many times have the courts ruled against the government? The violence we are seeing is bred by this culture of the untouchables within government and the ruling ANC. As human beings we are by design faulty to say the least but those faults are liberated when the watchers feel uninhibited due to their overseers being corrupt and indifferent to the constitution and the plight of the common person. This is a trickle down effect in that the corrupt policeman is soon noticed by the criminal to be no different from him other than the uniform. Many of us in the townships know about corruption by politicians and policemen and the fact that many have no shame in associating with known criminals. If you go to police stations and courts around RSA you will notice this culture which includes criminals being treated like celebrities by the police and the court officers, its very subtle but very present and prevalent. So the uniform which is supposed to be a symbol of justice, fairness, safety and the constitution is instead seen by many including the criminal element as the diametric opposite of justice, fairness, safety and the constitution. Instead is seen as a cloak and a means to criminality and self enrichment on a massive scale. There are two sayings that apply to RSA. One goes like: If you want to test a man’s character, give him absolute power and watch… The other is you are whom you are when you think no one is watching and when our police think no one is watching they are outstanding in crime. The bottom line is the uniform is tainted and therefore if you want to end violence against the police then hold the line on character at SAPS and do some house cleaning. Trust no man or woman, cameras everywhere in police stations and on the street. When the criminal knows he has no brothers or sisters in SAPS then and only then will we all be safe including the police themselves. No one is asking the big question why there is no public outrage against the killing of police officers. They public has returned the favor on indifference by their silence in that they know how corrupt the police are, after all they are their brothers, sisters, cousins, lovers, husbands, wives and mothers. We all ask ourselves how did he get in there ( SAPS) People go to churches, synagogues and mosques and yet there is so much indifference to each other’s conditions…Where is the love??? Poverty also has a lot to do with this, people who are desperate do very desperate and despicable things and crimes… SAPS is a representation of our society so in them we see ourselves and its not pretty…

    Reply
  11. Karen Landi
    Karen Landi says:

    Thank-you for standing up and saying enough is enough. We all need to stand together, say NO to crime with one voice and support the police men and women that are doing good against all odds.

    Reply
  12. Robin Kirby
    Robin Kirby says:

    We South Africans have become completely desensitized to stories of murder, rape, assault, corruption and violence in all its formats. Why do I now feel it necessary to carry a firearm when I take my dog for a walk each afternoon? I am constantly on the look out for shady characters. Why do I have to spend R1400 to install anti “smash & grab” on my car windows? Why did somebody blindly throw a rock at my car on the N2 smashing the windscreen of my car?. Another 30cm and it would have smashed thru the passenger window seriously injuring my wife, possibly killing her?Why do we have to pay to have security companies patrolling our neighbourhood day and night? Why do we not read about thieving government officials being sentenced to long prison terms for corruption? Any government official found guilty of a serious crime should be banned from ever from holding office in any government department including provincial and municipality. Why do I not see this madness in Botswana or Namibia?.
    We all had such high hopes when Madiba arrived on the scene. We have lost our way and will never find it until the ANC and its cadres are banished from society. There will one day be blood in our streets.

    Reply
  13. Louis Siebrits
    Louis Siebrits says:

    My pet subject. Policing, or in the case of South Africa, the lack thereof.

    Crime in South Africa is not only a policing issue. It has to do with the moral compass in South Africa that has gone south at a dazzling speed. It has to do with ever increasing unemployment, ever increasing number of illegal immigrants, ever increasing number of unschooled and under-schooled youth. It has to do with the fact that apartheid style riots, uproar, violence and looting has become the norm and that the so-called “Born-Free” children are involved in civil unrest as part of their frame of reference as opposed to being educated and liberated.

    It has to do with the misconception that every non-Black is rich and that quick rich is the only solution. It has to do with the fact that there is a small number of Black businessmen and entrepreneurs who have through their political capital, secured wealth for themselves at an alarming rate and with that an image and sometimes unfortunately also a perception that it is only accrued through fraud and corruption. They image they portray to the youth is that “quick rich” is the only way. There does not seem to be an honest working class that has family values as its core.

    It has to do with a political party and leadership that has not been able to transform from a liberation movement to a government. They are stuck in the ideologies of the 60’s in their minds, their actions and their rhetoric. If they cannot blame apartheid, they blame the media. if it is not the media, then it is anti-liberation forces. But the big R word, RESPONSIBILITY is not in their make-up or vocabulary. Taking responsibility would mean that they would make choices as government and not as the ANC. It would mean that they would put the plight of normal citizens above those of caders.

    Then to the Police. If the stats can be believed. There is an alarming rate of SAPS members who cannot read or write. Similarly, there is a large number that cannot drive. That means they are dead weight carried in an organisation that need to be intelligent and mobile to execute any strategic plan. Any new Commissioner, whether it is cader deployment or heaven forbid a career policeman, is set-up for failure.

    Being a policeman or women must be a calling. It can never just be a job. It is ungrateful and dangerous. If you do not do it because public safety and security is not your core motivation, but only because it is part of a huge ANC drive to create jobs in the public sector, the whole service is going to fail.

    the ANC should take REPONSIBILITY. Allow the Police and other Public Sector positions to be filled by career orientated individuals. People who WANT to be policemen. People who WANT to be the best Municipal Engineer, people who WANT to be teachers. Stop allowing mediocrity and poor service from officials. Be the Government that you are supposed to be. Stop being 1960’s Freedom Fighters. Be leaders. Be responsible. Or please just get out of the way, you are ruining our country.

    For the Police Commissioner, go and read Police Science 101 and get some direction please. Start with visible public policing. Get the overweight clerks to start walking beats. Remove illegal vending from the street corners. Remove illegal structures and vagrant. DO NOT JUST ROLL OVER AND PLAY DEAD.

    Reply
    • Mary-Ann
      Mary-Ann says:

      it is very difficult to teach our children that crime doesnt pay, when our ENTIRE government is proof that it does !!!! i agree …the rot is every where. no one in high places in this country actually knows how to manage, they couldnt organise a piss up in a brewery. and we the people just let it carry on !!! the next election, these idiots are in again !!! what the hell is wrong with this place. it is time to make a stand !! Hey MR PRESIDENT , do you KNOW you are in office to SERVE ME !!!! ?????? you are meant to be a PUBLE SERVANT !! along with the medical staff, and educational staff, and the police … yet all they serve is themself !!

      Reply
  14. shezjac
    shezjac says:

    Reading this just echoes what I’ve been lamenting about for the last six years since my husband was shot and killed. It changed the entire trajectory of my life. From a passionate teacher with skills in Special Needs and a finger in the pie of many social organizations, I became rudderless. I have taken my skills and left the country for a while until I find my True North again. Like me there are people that have been affected by the waves of crime, and like me, they’ve taken their much needed skills with them while trying to pick up the pieces of their fragmented life?
    Mr President my husbands life has been sacrificed, mine is barely hanging by a thread! My appeal is that you salvage the lives of my children and the lives of the children of South Africa. Our country is bleeding…? Do something!

    Reply
  15. Phil
    Phil says:

    Everyday that passes I think of my homeland, longing deeply for its sounds, smells and familiar things I grew to love. But as I sit here far away, ‘by the rivers of Babylon and weep’ along with thousands of children from SA spread across the world, all running away because ‘home’ became a place to bad to bear since the ANC became its Government. And every day news hits us of crack-pot Government officials, corrupt institutions, murders, crime and corruption. Prisons have revolving doors id you are a black person, and soon the evil is released on the streets to carry on with their trade.
    Our borders don’t exist anymore, and all of Africa has flooded in bringing with them more crime and corruption, even the notorious Nigerian scamsters.
    Think its time the ANC gets beaten down, just as the National Party was treated, for they have proven to be far worse.
    We can only judge the tree by its fruits!!

    Reply
  16. Veli Mokoena
    Veli Mokoena says:

    South Africa has too many unemployed young people, we can afford to train them in a form of military training/Police service to obtain skills whilst helping with restoration of the rule of law and order, moral re-generation etc. The government loses too much money on corruption that can be used to benefit young people.

    Please let this campaign not be hijacked by political organizations

    Reply
  17. Michael Anderson
    Michael Anderson says:

    Let my words below not confuse my view: I agree eagerly and wholeheartedly.
    That said, while this open letter speaks true, while it may echo a widely-shared sentiment, and while it is a letter that I believe should be written, it is but a silvery bead of water rolling from the lame-duck president’s back. Zuma. Just. Doesn’t. Care. Our voices fall on his deaf ears because he’s too busy nomm-nomming, fattening himself off SA Tax Revenue.

    Like any other person growing up in poverty of any kind (mental, financial, spiritual), he cannot escape his past. How many times would that man have dreamed about riches and freedom in the dark days of apartheid? This man is gorging himself on everything that life has to offer – he is a glutton, drunk on power and money, “drinking” to forget his violent past life (I suspect THAT detail would be sickening), and too busy trying to fill the hole in his poverty-stricken self to care about anyone else. Similarly with his inner circle. None of them care, Mr Abramjee. Yes, it is oh so timeous, and necessary, this letter; but know that you speak of principles so utterly foreign to him that all he could muster in reply would be his signature “heh-heh-heh”. So, the letters must continue, and the challenges must persist, because people of conscience and morality must NEVER give such a person any quarter whatsoever. And if not for that, then simply for the nation to be able to tell this reprehensible, moribund “man” when sentencing him in a court of law: “We warned you, pleaded with you. Repeatedly.”

    Reply
  18. Mary Parr
    Mary Parr says:

    Any chance Mr Zuma will actually receive and read this letter? He seems so out of touch!

    This said, thank you for your efforts, Mr Abramjee!!

    Reply
  19. The Emperor
    The Emperor says:

    I have been a victim of the so-called “serious crime” and literally had to beg for dear life, whilst staring down a gun barrel.

    Thus, I feel with every fibre of my being, and concur with the contents of your open letter.

    In my case, the police did a sterling job to arrest the alleged criminals, but guess what – the courts could not convict. So, there is no integration of work done by various crime-prevention and justice departments.

    Mr. Abramjee, I also suggest that you start looking at the crime tip-off line. I have tried to use it numerous times; and it just doesn’t work.

    The private sector should also be made part of the solution and all crimes should be addressed and dealt with equally (from your so-called “petty”, “serious” to your “white-collar” crimes). And you should be as equally vocal on all forms of crime – even when committed by those you would have associated with.

    Finally, if it could be done (police visibility, 24-hour courts e.t.c) during the 2010 FIFA world cup why can’t it be done now?

    Reply
  20. Sally Fuidge
    Sally Fuidge says:

    I agree totally with your letter to Zuma and hope that he reads it!!

    Unfortunately our president cannot even control the blatant disregard for traffic laws by our famous TAXIS, so how on earth can he control our beautiful South Africa?
    Sadly, many motorists are taking the ” if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude and the lawlessness grows and grows. We might as well do away with traffic lights and stop streets!!

    He is destroying our country at an alarming rate and this breaks my heart.

    Reply
  21. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    There is one critical change that must take place before we move toward a safer, more productive society… We must change the man in charge.

    Reply
  22. ehsaan
    ehsaan says:

    Dear Mr. President….how you do one thing, is the way you do EVERYTHING…you began your term with accusations of RAPE! You have a “Don’t care a Damned” attitude towards other ethnicities because YOU know you did NOT get the majority of their vote…You built Nkandla with money of the STATE! You and the ANC executive and their husbands, wives and extended families continue to plunder the coffers of the state…Mr. Abramjee is putting it lightly when he speaks of the law and order issues citizens are experiencing. You and your cronies don’t have to worry because you live in armed estates compliments of TAX payers money. Your time as President will end sooner then you can imagine, and we will ensure that you are TRIED to your crimes as well…I don’t see the sense in begging you for help when you have crimes that you’re accused of and you have taken every possible step to evade them…well, your time is coming soon…

    Reply
  23. bonnie poysden
    bonnie poysden says:

    everything you said would make a world of difference. if only our president would get off his throne and listen to what the people need…not want…. need ….DISCIPLINE……..Save this beautiful country its being run by criminals…..

    Reply
  24. Trevor Barrett
    Trevor Barrett says:

    When the crime and violence is addressed it will help as many keen investors will provide SA with desperately needed work opportunities that in the past have been lost due to the very poor law and order state of affairs.

    Reply
  25. Annmarie Streicher
    Annmarie Streicher says:

    Thank you for standing up for all us ordinary SA’s your letter #DearMrPresident is spot on and absolutely fair comment!

    Reply
  26. Simon Paul
    Simon Paul says:

    Dear Yusuf,

    This is a great start, but now requires us to take it to the streets. Three years ago, I wrote to LeadSA via Jenny Crwys-Williams, to promote an idea we called ‘Speakers Corner’. The concept, based on a ‘speakers corner like the one in Hyde Park, London, would allow citizens to have a five minute say about what is really on their minds. It is a credible way of providing a voice to the voiceless. The platform would be a soap box, (or equivalent) in Zoo Lake Park, on a Sunday lunchtime when families are gathered to spend quality time together. The approach is, allow citizens to register, and have a five minute platform to voice their opinion. Hers’s hoping LeadSA take me up on this. Simon Paul, Parkview.

    Reply
  27. Ava Warden
    Ava Warden says:

    There is a potential solution, as happeened in 2011, members of public took the lead and physically chased away armed ganags terrorisng their comunities, but SAPS banned these volunary patrollers. At one crime scene, police rifles were recovered from criminals who shot and killed a neghbourhood watch leader. Its time we take back our streets using force, despite a few crooked cops who shall be hunted if they interfere with public safety (instead of protecting the public).

    Reply
  28. LOST HOPE
    LOST HOPE says:

    Fellow South Africans, we are doomed, i live in Umhlanga a big group of us have by default exposed a very well orgianised crime syndicate involving well know gangs and russians. They are involved in drugs, human trafficking and various other activities, and holding woman against their will. The matter has been going on for close to two years. National Intelligence, SAP Crime Intelligence, witnesses, informers and insiders and more have all CONFIRMED the KNOWN activities. but alas people are scared to work on the case as there is suggestion that they have to protect informers involved and that the activities involve some very high profile people. It is suggested that the is a hit on the heads of witnesses and mine. I have literally followed procedure right up the ladder to every level in SA. I will offer you are not going to get your hoped response or it will be fobbed off down the ranks where you did not want to report in the first place. This country at the moment is a joke. I pray for all my fellow South Africa irrespective of colour, religion or political affiliation as crime affects us all. Professionally speaking it is sad and disgusting policemen are being killed, but hey according to our Constitution we are all South Africans, born with equal priveledges and rights, or was the when the Rainbow was still around. Sadly drought, no rainbow. My advice to South Africans, pack your bags and leave there is no hope if our leaders accross the spectrum do not lead as per the mandate we voted them in for.

    Reply

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