How Can South Africa End the Robberies and Hijackings that Ravage the Country?

New York City, the world’s financial center, prior to Rudy Giuliani becoming the mayor, was the center place where one would be scared of walking at night simply for a short stroll or going through the subway system. The city was the hub and cesspool of all kinds of robberies and personal attacks.

However, when Rudy Giuliani became mayor of the City on January 1, 1994 through December 31, 2001, he filled the streets, on every street corner, with high trained and well paid security officers and cops. He also installed CC cameras on every street corner.

His primary and focus mission was to clean up New York City, and it worked. Even prior to 9-11, New York City became one of the most safest cities in the world, where you could get up any time of the day and walk down the street, without the fear of being worried about some schmuck snatching your wallet or purse, or robbing you at gun or knife point.

Mayor Bloomberg has continued on Rudy Giuliani’s vision, to keep New York City safe, and to date, it has continued that momentum. Today, you can literally walk down the street, and not have to worry about keeping your eyes on your wallet or pulse, and simply worry about seeing all the great excitement stuff around the city.

On the other side, South Africa, obviously not a city but a country, in most of its metropolitan areas, such as Johannesburg, has nearly been the safe haven for all kinds of ruthless pick-pocketing, car hijackings, and at gun point robberies, some of them are usually deadly.

Most people would tell you not to be downtown Johannesburg after 5:00PM, that’s when most offices are closed for business. And that’s when most robberies and car hijacking take place, as they try to catch the rush hours, people going back home and well-uninformed tourists.

Thus, the question is; what can the government of Zuma do to help stop the car hijackings, robberies and attacks on civilians and tourists?

One possible economic cause of these types of acts, it’s because of the high rate of unemployment. South Africa has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world, at one point years back, the rate of unemployment in South Africa was at about 35%. However, according to the Voice of America, “despite a recent spate of bad economic news, the latest unemployment rate for South Africa has actually declined. The Labor Force Survey reports a drop from 23.2 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 21.9 percent in the fourth quarter. The improvement is largely due to an increase in construction industry jobs”.

But despite an improvement in unemployment in South Africa, still, the majority of those who are employed still earn less than what they need for buying basic necessities. The GDP per capita in South Africa is $10,100 (CIA World Factbook), and that’s good compare to the rest of Africa.

Then why the rate of robberies and hijacking still high in South Africa? Partly, because the majority of the unemployed are those who didn’t finish their secondary school education during the apartheid era. And, post independence, they found themselves having to compete for low paying jobs, which compare to their uneducated counterparts in America, they refused to work 9 to 5 jobs with low paying salaries. Thus, in the US, the selling of drugs and in South Africa, the life of robberies and hijacking, has become the only way of making a decent living, for the short-term of course, because soon o r later, the culprit either goes to jail for his or her actions or gets killed by the law enforcement officers or co-rivalries.

Giuliani turned around New York City by trusting his law enforcement officers he has placed on every street corner to carry on their mission, to protect and serve, keeping the city safe and secure. On the other hand, in South Africa, with the recent reported bad news of South African Police Officers shooting and killing a two-year old boy, whom they thought was carrying a knife or gun, and their unofficially authorized code of shoot to kill, how can Zuma trust his law enforcement officers to carry out their mission, to serve and protect, but shoot first, and ask questions later?

Another underlying issue; South African Police Officers are low paid government officials, and when they are low paid, they have no motivation or moral authority to work even harder as required, which also puts their safety in danger from those ruthless and merciless criminals.

In America, law enforcement officers (cops) are some of the best paid workers. They have great benefits, and they never have to worry about what to eat at home or where to sleep. Unlike in South Africa, where cops are some of the lowest paid employees.

The first thing that Zuma needs to do is to ask the South African Parliament to vote and pass a bill, authorizing a high increase of wages and salaries plus great benefits for all law enforcement officers, at least doubling their current salary and wages. And then deploy them at full force on every street corner. If they are well paid, then their families are well-kept and fed, and if their families are well fed and kept, then they don’t have to worry about receiving bribes from the robbers and thieves, and for that, they will be more motivated to do their jobs, keeping the streets safe and secure.

With the 2010 World Cup coming to South Africa, certainly strict security measures are being put in place. However, either pre-or-post the 2010 World Cup, South Africa needs to act fast, and make it its highest priority to end these kinds of acts, for the sake of its citizens and most importantly, the unsuspecting tourists from around the world who travel to South Africa, everyday.

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A Call for an African Community Forum

There’re many business, economic and political forums in the world such as World Economic Forum, World Business Forum, TransAfrica Forum, and other forums that meet regulary or yearly to discuss issues that pertain and matter to them.

The murdering of Lucky Dube reminds the world of just how the violence has gotten out of control in South Africa, as well as in most countries in Africa, the cry of hundreds of thousands of parentless children, whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS, lack of access to quality education and healthcare, the poverty and corruption in many different African countries call for an immediate and actionable action to figure out how to severely take whatever the necessary steps to put an end to these inhumane.

In the honor of Lucky Dube, I am calling for the establishment of an African Community Forum, a free non-political and non-partisan peaceful discussion forum for a multitude of young African people to get together to discuss, decide and make strong and actionable recommendations to the world bodies such as the United Nations and the developed countries about what steps must be taken to immediately ensure that these issues as stated far above can be eradicated effectively.

We can organize the first African Community Forum to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2008. This will be a weekend long events, composed of panelists, questions and answers discussion style, workshops, and a celebration of life through music and storytelling, and at the end of the events, there would be a selection of five individuals who would be tasked to go present the recommendations and outcomes of the events to the United Nations in New York. The African Community Forum will then make a persistent follow up to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.

Each year, the African Community Forum will then gather together in any selected city anywhere in Africa to discuss certain issues that matters to the African people.

These events are for senior high school students, college students, academia professors, and business and community leaders. Transportation, food and lodging to and from the African Community Forum will be provided.

It’s time to step up. During the apartheid era, students around the world used to march and demonstrate on the streets against the injustices by the South African apartheid government, and likewise, it’s time to step up against violence, HIV/AIDS, corruption, poverty, and better education and healthcare.

I am looking for well-placed individuals to help carry out these events. Interested individuals and parties should contact me via email at simon(at)rentersq.com, immediately.

A Product of Your Own Environment?

Yesterday night, my friend, Reggae Super Star Lucky Dube was killed in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, by a punk who tried to hijack his car as he was dropping of his son at his brother’s house.

And, as I sit here right now, not really currently interested in doing anything, work or study, but just sitting here listening to some of Lucky Dube’s music. Everything that he used to sing, are issues about life, real social life that affect most people around the world.

Lucky Dube used to sing about real issues, real life, things that he has always known most of his life, things he has seen with his own eyes, things he has experienced while growing up in an apartheid era South Africa.

Lucky Dube is a product of his own environment and he died from what he has always been against, violence; which he has been fighting for most of his life. He has sung against poverty and apartheid, some of his music were banned in South Africa, and he used to get harassed by the South African police and the Boers prior to the South African independence in 1994.

Like everybody else in South Africa and Namibia until 1990 and 1994, they all have experienced the same hardship caused by the South African apartheid government, but there were those who stood up for what they believed in, and Lucky Dube was one of those who stood up, and in whatever he could, he fought for what he believed in and he died with that belief.

The question is; whether you live in America, UK, or India, what’s your environment, what are you made of? Are you a product of a hardship upbringing, poor family, bad neighborhood, or you’re simply filthy rich that you just don’t even know what you supposed to do with your life?

For whatever your situation or circumstance is; what are you doing about it? Are you just sitting back and let it go by and be the way it is? Or will you stand up and do what you believe is right and just?

South Africans and Namibians have stood up and fought for what is rightfully theirs, freedom. Martin Luther King Jr., fought for what he believed in, equality and civil rights for all Americans.

Gandhi stoop up and fought for his rights in South Africa and then for peace and freedom for all Indians in India.

What about you, what do you believe in? What’s your purpose in life? Is eating, drinking and being merry your only purpose, that’s it?

Now, that South Africa is free, the fight is not yet over, the war is just beginning and the people of South Africa should stand up in uprising and march in multitude, just the way they used to prior to 1994, not with guns and weapons, but they must uprise against crime that’s ravaging South Africa and against HIV/AIDS that’s destroying and killing people of all ages in South Africa.

The real war is just beginning in South Africa, and it’s up to each and every South African, anywhere in the world, to say, enough is enough; they must take back their country, their communities, and their way of life.

The murdering of Lucky Dube by one schmuck should serve as a wakeup call. It’s not just a reminder of how dangerous South Africa has become in terms of crime, but it’s a turn off for some outsiders who may wish to travel to or for some foreigners who may want to do go business in South Africa.

It has been said over and over that crimes and AIDS in South Africa have become one of the worst in the world. It has been said over and over that once the 5 o’clock in the afternoon hits, you should fold yourself to your own place, and don’t be anywhere near downtown Johannesburg after office hours.

This does not sound like a free country, this sounds like a curfew that the South African apartheid government had imposed in Namibia and South Africa prior to independence.

People, wake up and speak up, it’s your world, it’s your country, it’s for your family, your children, your parents, it’s your livelihood.

Stand up, please stand up!

Saddened by the Sudden Death of My Friend, Lucky Dube

Today, the whole world is greatly saddened by the tragic loss and sudden death of one of the world’s greatest musicians ever, Lucky Dube (www.luckydubemusic.com).

Lucky Dube, 43, was shot last night by three hijackers in Rosettenville, just south of downtown Johannesburg, as he was dropping off his teenage son at his brother’s house. Check out some of his music at Free.Napster.

As a sound engineer, I had the honor and pleasure of spending a great deal of time with Lucky Dube in the 90’s, working and doing live sound for his concerts in Namibia and Europe. I grew up listening to Lucky Dube’s music in Namibia; he’s one of my favorite artists of all time.

But before I met him in person, I used to think that he was like most other Rastafarians; smoking Marijuana and drinking alcohol, but to my surprise, the first time I met him in around October 1991, if my memory serves me right, at Katutura Stadium, where he was performing and I was assisting with the Front House sound.

During the break, we all left the stage and went inside the room, underneath the stage to get some snacks and rest up a bit, and one of the promoters asked him if he smoked Marijuana and drank alcohol, and Lucky Dube softly and gently answered him that he never smoked Marijuana or cigarettes and he didn’t drink alcohol.

But by the way he looks, like a Rastafarian; anyone who didn’t personally know him would undoubtedly conclude that he smoked Marijuana and drank alcohol and worships the Rastafarian religion, but he said that he didn’t believe in smoking or drinking and that he was a Christian and strongly believe in Jesus Christ, son of God.

I was sitting there starring at him with my eyes wide open; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, because I have always thought that Lucky Dube was like every other Rastafarian such as Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, and others, but not Lucky Dube.

I usually really didn’t care too much about who I was working with at any time, but I instantly liked Lucky Dube even more, not only as an artist, but as a person and a friend. He was real in his music. Most artists sing about things just for the sake of selling records, but Lucky Dube believed in what he sang.

He was a true comrade; very kind, generous in terms of just talking, giving advices, and helping others, and all he talked about was about how one can make it in life, for anyone to take care of one’s personal responsibilities, family value, friendship and good citizenship.

After that concert, we ended up being good friends, and although I haven’t seen or talked to him in years, I’ve always thought that may be one day, we would be doing some stuff, like business, together, but I guess I had forgotten that time was not on our side.

Now he’s gone, gone but not forever. His physical being might have gone away from this earth, but his spirit and music will always live forever. Lucky Dube was one of the nicest and kindest persons I have ever met and known.

Let your spirit and music live forever, Lucky Dube. Let Jah live!