South Africa is known to have the highest crime rates in the world, and crime in the country is often not spoken about as contributing to social injustice. Instead, it is looked at as one of the indicators of injustice in the country. This article will look at how crime contributes to social injustice.
What is social injustice?
Social injustice happens when an individual or group treat another individual or group within a society unfairly, which often puts that individual or group at a disadvantage. Social injustice can lead to missed opportunities, work, education, housing, care, and so much more. Often, a person who experiences unequal access in one of the levels mentioned may also experience a cascade of difficulties in other areas. An example is if a person is stuck working a low-paying job, they may also be forced to live in inadequate housing. As a result of their low-paying job, they may also find it challenging to access healthcare.
There are different causes of social injustice that indicate discrimination against particular groups. Economic inequality, racism, and class discrimination are some of the few causes of social injustice; however, social injustice can affect anyone. Whenever a group with power, authority or wealth gives preferential treatment to its own group over members of another group, this is when social injustice occurs.
How does crime contribute to social injustice?
Poverty, crime, inequality, society, and prisons are linked to social cohesion and harmony, leading to social unrest and riots. Often in society, social injustice occurs due to discrimination. Criminals who belong to a higher class or are powerful will likely misuse their power and money to escape prison. In South Africa, crime rates are most prevalent among the poor, as the Global Peace Index ranked the country as the tenth most unsafe country in the world.
South Africa has more unequal people than anywhere else in the world. When inequality suppresses public safety and collective action at the aggregate level, it could also contribute to more crime. The country also battles high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. To address these challenges, the government provides basic services and extended social wages.
The common causes of crime in South Africa include the economic crisis, which has resulted in job losses, inadequate job opportunities, increased food and petrol prices, and corrupt and understaffed force. The high levels of poverty, inequality, social exclusion, unemployment, and marginalisation also play a role in this. Some children in South Africa are exposed to risk factors which increase their chances of becoming involved in violence and criminal activities due to unstable living arrangements, poverty, deprivation, and inconsistent parenting.
Crime results in social injustice based on discrimination already prevalent in society. Crime tends to disproportionately affect people from poorer communities, and those who have committed crime will likely suffer from the causes of social breakdown, including poor literacy rates, unemployment and drug abuse.
Scholars agree that crime significantly reduces safety, creates chaos and confusion, disrupts social order, and hinders community collaboration and trust while also creating severe economic costs for individuals and the nation as a whole.
When the country was on lockdown, crimes such as common assault, robbery and sexual offences increased as people were forced to stay home. Some suggested that with people being confined in limited spaces, issues that usually could have been dealt with by leaving the house could not be ignored, leading to increased assault and sexual offences. These sentiments indicate the problems with criminality lead to social injustice rather than contribute to it.
Another point that indicates that crime results from social injustice is the need to develop an Economic Recovery Plan for South Africa. The recovery plan resulted from the economic downturn that occurred due to the strict regulations brought on by the lockdown. In the plans that political parties proposed, the main focus was not on curbing crime. Instead, it was about creating employment, building infrastructure that would be able to accommodate changes brought on by the fourth industrial revolution and also changing the education system.
Therefore, there is a belief that if South Africa did not have high levels of inequality in terms of wealth dynamics, then the crime rates would not be as high as they are now. The key would then be to deal with the social injustices such as the education system, unemployment, water, housing and sanitation for the disadvantaged. Once these social injustices are dealt with, then there will be a decrease in the crime rate.