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How violent is South Africa?

In her article ‘Farm murders highlight apartheid’s toxic legacy in South Africa’ for Reuters, dated November 29, Olivia Kumwenda writes that,

“While South Africa’s overall annual murder rate has more than halved since the end of apartheid to around 32 people per 100,000, figures for commercial farmers show a near 50 percent rise to an average rate of some 290 per 100,000 a year in the five years to 2011.”

Although she recites them as fact, Kumwenda’s figures are in dispute. In a paper called Murder in South Africa, Robert McCafferty of United Christian Action disputes Kumwenda’s claim that murders have declined post-apartheid. Using information from Interpol, Medical Research Council and Department of Home Affairs, McCafferty concludes that South Africa’s real crime rate is far higher, and that it’s been on the rise since early in the 20th century.

More to the point, he claims that murder rates post-apartheid are much higher than they were over several decades before what’s called the New Dispensation, i.e., post-apartheid rule. McCafferty blames the increased murders on the suspension of the death penalty and a lack of vigorous law enforcement. He also writes that South African police try hard to shake off the wrap by manipulating statistics.

Liberal reporters like Kumwenda are most likely eager to help the South African government shake off its reputation as the murder capital of the world, since the reality of South Africa’s horrendous rate of violent crime is testimony to the failure of black nationalism and socialism. Still, some of what she writes is interesting and on point, though in ways she doesn’t intend.

For example,

“For radicals, Zimbabwe’s experience set a good example to follow – even though the forced seizures of land helped push South Africa’s neighbor into nearly a decade of economic decline.”

Talk about understatement. In Zimbabwe, black nationalist style rule led to the literal destruction of the economy in the form of 96 percent unemployment. That’s more than just decline, it’s raping and pillaging. The only reason anyone is working there is the leader, Robert Mugabe, hesitates to ransack the few remaining working farms lest the little aid it gets from abroad dries up.

Yes, it’s basically all bad in southern Africa, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the likes of Olivia Kumwenda and her friends in the liberal press.

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