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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

The death of innocents is a crime

Criminals aren’t particularly concerned about the safety of ordinary people – just interested in killing.

The stray bullet which killed Nkosingiphile Nxumalo and seriously injured another University of Johannesburg (UJ) student, Dimpho Mosia, in Braamfontein, should be a chilling reminder that no-one is safe in South Africa.

While families and friends need every kind of psychological support during times of trauma, no amount of condemnation by government will bring back Nxumalo – a second-year student hit by a bullet while travelling in a UJ bus.

Being caught in crossfire between warring taxi factions, which also led to the deaths of two taxi owners, is ghastly. It has shown us that the cold-blooded murderers are driven by nothing else, except killing their targets.

There was no concern about hitting innocent members of the public.

It could have been me or you shot in that bus – a wake-up call on how unsafe we are in the streets of death – whether in Braamfontein, Westbury, Cape Flats or Gugulethu.

Nxumalo’s death has robbed the country of a future bright leader – a BCom and accounting major and the last-born from a working-class KwaZulu-Natal family.

ALSO READ: Criminologist warns of South Africa’s escalating illegal firearm crisis

Experts, such as University of Stellenbosch senior lecturer Dr Guy Lamb, have correctly pointed out that central to the problem is tightening up gun control to stamp out the proliferation of illegal firearms landing in the wrong hands.

Lamb has suggested an intensified approach in crime operations to root out illegal firearms, an increase in gun amnesty and a more efficient central firearms registry.

“With easy access to firearms and ammunition, which seems to be the problem in South Africa, you tend to see firearms featuring more prominently in crime,” Lamb said.

“We are seeing a lot of exchanges between criminals and victims, or perpetrators and victims – and it is done increasingly in public spaces. Criminals aren’t particularly concerned about the safety of ordinary people – just interested in killing, injuring their targets, and if other people get in the way, they don’t care.

“The database of the registry has been problematic and dysfunctional.

“That is something that can be done to help police: to establish a functional database system they can use to do their investigations. Police have been hamstrung by a defective electronic system,” Lamb said.

ALSO READ: Confirmed: University of Johannesburg student killed in Braamfontein shooting

What a sobering observation.

The registry has been dysfunctional for years, without anyone in the SA Police Service’s top echelons doing something about it.

Dealing with the abundance of illegal firearms should be on the top of Police Minister Bheki Cele’s to-do list.

This should be accompanied by Cele putting in more resources and technical expertise to beef up crime intelligence.

Failure to strengthen the intelligence arm of the police will forever lead to a reaction after an incident – and that’s not good enough.

While violence is a global phenomenon, with a million people dying every year, South Africa is among the countries with the highest inequalities worldwide and high rates of violence.

ALSO READ: Fatal shooting rocks Braamfontein: University student among three dead

Our homicide rate is said to be 45 per 100 000 people, compared to the United States with a rate of 6.3 and around one in most European countries.

Third-quarter crime statistics put the number of people murdered at 7 710 between October and December last year, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal being leading provinces contributing to the murder rates.

That shows we are in big trouble.

With the stats frightening, there seems to be not much breakthrough being made in the fight against violent crime.