This June, South Africa will host the world in the largest international games, the World Cup. This is an event has been a point of pride for the country and the continent since it was chosen as the site of the World Cup in 2004. It will be the first time an African nation will play host to these games.
But South Africa has had a problem with violence for the better part of its history and violent crime has risen dramatically in Johannesburg in recent years. The country continues to rank second to Colombia in terms of murder rate.
Most troubling is the recent call by the South African white supremacist “Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging” movement called the recent killing of their leader a “declaration of war” by blacks against whites. In their statements, the group is using the World Cup as leverage for its threats rather than what many would hope would be a time to call a truce.
The country has made multi-billion dollar investments in advanced technology to track and respond to crime. There was talk several years ago of Rudy Giuliani’s group assisting the city with efforts, but according to a South African publication, the Daily Maverick, the fault of the failed partnership lies with the city’s mayor, Amos Masondo. “In reality, no one from Masondo’s office bothered to return Giuliani’s phone calls.” But the politics and those making decisions have changed.
The US has seen its fair share of unexplained violent crime. The recent mass shooting in Southeast Washington, DC or plans by the militia group in Clayton, Michigan are examples of our own problems, not to mention the countless crimes that go unreported in the national media. While there is no question the crime rate in South Africa country is much higher than the U.S. tourists should remember that crime can happen anywhere.
There is little evidence of positive movement for the country. The cameras have improved response time dramatically, however it has not reduced the incidence of crime in the same dramatic fashion. But what there is evidence of is a willingness and desire by the local officials to take the problem seriously and protect the expected inflow of tourists. The country has prioritized this event even speeding in the judicial system. The country aims to please tourists, in more ways than one. The collective will may not stop all crime, but I am hopeful and confident it will alleviate a good deal of the fear.
Editor’s note: For full disclosure, I wrote this post after the purchase of my tickets to the country, therefore my hope may be interpreted as slightly selfish.
Written by Emma Sandoe