Members of the security apparatus are quick to tell us that we should not fight crime on our own. They tell us vigilantism is illegal and that we will go to jail for it. Fighting crime is our job, they say. If there is a murderer in your house, do not try to apprehend him. Call us. If lines are busy, call later. But do call.
Speaking for myself, since there is nobody else willing to do it, I don’t see anything wrong with vigilantism. People have been taking the law into their own hands for many years.
One of the most famous examples is Charles Bronson, a respected architect who was living in New York in 1974 when a gang of street punks murdered his wife and raped his daughter. This mild-mannered man went from a liberal supporter of human rights to a crime-fighting vigilante who roamed the streets of Manhattan at night, executing varmints at an alarming rate. The public hailed him as a hero because he was doing a better job than the NYPD. The cops knew that if they tracked him down they would be even more unpopular, so they turned a blind eye.
Mr Bronson’s life was a particularly tragic one. Over the next twenty years, several new wives, girlfriends and maids were murdered by an assortment of gunrunners, mafia hit men, drug dealers and two-bit hoods. His story was so unique that Hollywood made a series of five documentaries about his life, titled Death Wish. After killing thousands of people, Mr Bronson retired and went underground.
Another way to fight crime is to become an informant. We have all seen criminal activity being conducted right under our noses and wondered whether we should get a piece of the action or call the cops. It is worth becoming an informant if the police give you first shot at their stash of unclaimed stolen goods. But be prepared to live with names like “impimpi”, “rat” and “stool pigeon”, none of which are particularly harsh when you put them up against “divorce lawyer”, “spindoctor” and “taxi driver”.
You can also fight crime by joining an opposition party that fires off hundreds of press releases every day condemning the government for not doing enough to fight crime. That way you never have to leave your air-conditioned office while simultaneously creating an impression among the electorate that you really do care about these things.
Perhaps the most effective way of fighting crime is to emigrate. Without question, Australia affords one a unique perspective on the South African situation. It is, admittedly, difficult to look at crime from an objective standpoint when your car has been stolen, your sister has been mugged and your beloved shitzhu is being held for ransom.
Sometimes you have to distance yourself to see the solution and I, for one, can understand how a welder from Benoni could be sprawled on the grass in the lee of the Sydney Opera House drinking Fosters lager and suddenly be struck by an epiphany – a searing realisation that the problem with South Africa is that there are too many Africans in it.
The least popular way to fight crime is to become a police reservist. Reservists are only called in when the situation is hopelessly out of control. So by the time you do get the call, you have put on 30kgs and can’t get out of a chair without clutching your heart and struggling for breath, let alone abseil from buildings and man the barricades to stem the tsunami of savagery that threatens to engulf your city.
According to the application form, reservists must have no mental defects. Considering that reservists don’t get paid, I would have thought that merely applying would be a sign of serious mental illness in itself.
You also need to complete psychometric tests, be of good character, have your matric and be able to speak, read and write English. If only the regular police had such high standards. Among those who are not permitted to become reservists are people with criminal records and full-time journalists. Well, that rules me out. But I’d still like to dabble in journalism one day.
Abdicating All Responsibility
Another way to fight crime is to do absolutely nothing and hope that your apathy will spread to the criminals. This is a long-term strategy and you should not expect immediate results. You can, however, expect all the perks that go with the minister of safety and security portfolio.