The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) condemns more killings in working class communities this week. On Saturday night (16 July 2022), 5 people were gunned down in two separate incidents in Khayelitsha (Cape Town), and another 5 were killed in Lenasia (Johannesburg).

Earlier in the week, 5 people were shot dead (and 5 others sustained injuries) in separate incidents in Alexandra township. In Kestell, Free State, 7 people were murdered on a farm on the morning of Friday, 15 July 2022.

SAFTU is worried by the spate of gun shooting in working class communities that feeds into the already high levels of murders in this country. The Crime Statistics for the last financial year shows that 68 people were killed on a daily basis.

There is no hope that this tide of crime and sheer violence will be turned in the context of the current political economic climate of a decaying capitalism that reproduces poverty and amplifies the scramble for resources among the working-class people who are economically displaced by unemployment.

In Quarter 1 of 2022, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) shows that 46,3% of the youth between the ages of 15 and 34 were Not in any form of Employment, Education and Training (NEET).

The suspects in both Kestell (2 suspects) and Alexandra (7 suspects) killings are between the ages of 22 and 33. The probability is that the suspects form part of the 46,3% of the NEETs. Thus, the age of the suspects allows us to draw a strong link between the rising unemployment and exclusion from education institutions, and crime.

While the ages of the suspects helps us to draw a link between unemployment and crime in the context of the QLFS, the nationality of the suspects also helps debunk some of the myths proliferated by Xenophobes to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments. The suspects arrested in both cases are South African.

Since the spate of these shootings last week, videos of Basotho nationals carrying AK 47s and pistols have been circulated to hammer the narrative that it is immigrants who are responsible for the rising levels of crime. Yes, some immigrants engage in crime, but immigrants are not responsible for the rising crime rate in South Africa.

Because crime feeds on the sap of the economic structure, the working class must organise to abolish capitalism in order to assemble a political, economic, and social order that does not create conditions for the reproduction of crime and violence.

In the meantime, the ANC government must reverse budget cuts which lead to the exclusion of young people in educational institutions, condemning them to the streets where the only means of survival is crime in the context of unemployment and lack of social security, cultural and recreational programmes.

Furthermore, we believe that besides the managerial and administrative squabbles crippling the South African Police Service (SAPS), another factor crippling SAPS to effectively combat crime is the austerity programme. Budget cuts have led to a reduction in the number of police, lack of equipment and maintenance of vehicles, thus paralysing the SAPS to effectively combat crime.

In addition, we hope that the problems that were identified by the High Level Review Panel that looked into the State Security Agency (SSA) in 2018 are not persisting, and the ones responsible for the failure of the intelligence to track the whereabouts of these guns and the criminal syndicates that use them to terrorise working class communities.

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