Much ado about 36 Dutch tourists, but what about the other 390?

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Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said the robbery of 36 Dutch tourists was an attack on the tourism sector and the economy. File photo.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said the robbery of 36 Dutch tourists was an attack on the tourism sector and the economy. File photo.  Image: Alon Skuy
On Sunday 36 Dutch tourists were robbed at gunpoint. They are understandably traumatised and have left the country. In other news, 390 South Africans were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. They are understandably traumatised but all of them are still here.

In our crime catastrophe, it was a relatively small and blessedly bloodless footnote. And yet it has dominated headlines this week and even moved Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to stop congratulating himself on Twitter for reaching a million followers (I’m not joking) and to visit the tour group to offer comfort.

On Tuesday he urged us not to buy anything stolen from the Dutch tourists.

But at least he’s out there, right?

It raises a much more important question: why is he out there? And when was the last time a senior official visited one of the 390 South Africans who are victims of armed robbery every day?

One explanation might be racism. Crimes against whites are viewed as a shocking upheaval and crimes against blacks as some sort of perverted normality.

Ultimately, however, I think that this focus on 36 foreigners is a way of avoiding looking at 55million South Africans.

Our relationship with crime seems defined by cautious avoidance and even exhausted acceptance.

Much better, then, to look at those Dutch tourists, shake our heads and put it all away again for another day.

BY TOM EATON

TMG DIGITAL

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