“First of all, we need to change our rhetoric. It’s always been ‘war on crime’. When one has that war mentality, you respond to violence with violence, and that really just entrenches a cycle of violence,” Chandre Gould, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies told CNBC Africa.
This is in response to the South African Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s announcement of the country’s national crime statistics on Thursday.
According to reports, the number of murders per 100,000 people is at 31.1, compared to last year’s rate of 30.9 murders per 100,000 people, reflecting a 0.6 per cent increase. This is twice the average rate for Africa, which was at 17 murders per 100,000 people in 2012.
Residential house breakings show a 33 per cent increase to 501.4 per 100,000, with the biggest increase being in KwaZulu-Natal. Car hijackings were also up 2.6 per cent.
Although, Gould pointed out, there was a decrease in bank robberies, stock theft and cash in transit robberies.
“I think what should concern us however are the increases in business robberies, shopping malls and other small businesses. I think we also need to be concerned that violence remains very high,” she added.
Gould therefore proposes that the government, police and non-governmental organisations work on formulating long term crime prevention strategies in order to target areas in the region where violence is high.
“However, to undo the normalisation of violence is going to take a long time,” she said.
Since crime is driven by social factors, Gould stated, a good place to start is by addressing the causes of violence in the home, streets and schools.
For instance, children that are subjected to corporal punishment at schools will think that they need to resort to violence in order to deal with their problems.
“So until we address those kinds of issues, I think we're going to be trapped in this cycle,” said Gould.
She stated that there are a number of alternative options to use in order to address violence, which has worked in other countries.
For example, in depth counselling and cognitive behavioural therapies, especially with young offenders as well as their family members, have proven to be effective.
Also, Gould added, some countries have adopted a program that educates parents on how to parent their children more efficiently, such as how to respond to your child in an un-authoritarian manner.
“These are some of the things that can undo patterns of violence,” explained Gould.