President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma has shot down suggestions that South Africa is a violent society.
Zuma told the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament on Thursday that South Africa was not a violent country, but there were elements in society that perpetrated violence.
He said the recent spate of violence against women and children had led some to believe the country was violent.
“South Africa is not a violent country. It is certain people who are violent. By and large we are a peaceful country,” Zuma told traditional leaders.
He said all South Africans could not be accused of being violent when the perpetrators of violent acts constituted a tiny minority.
He said they would continue to search for solutions to this problem.
In the past few weeks the country has been gripped by stories of police brutality and the rape and murder of women and children.
He said while general crime had come down he was concerned that crimes against women and children remained high.
“But the police continue to make inroads. During the last financial year, the units secured more than 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73% for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70% against children under 18 years old,” he said.
Zuma said violence must be understood from the country’s history, where the apartheid government used violence to suppress change.
“The apartheid system could only be sustained through violence, and violence became entrenched. When we demanded freedom, equality, justice and human dignity, the response was violence, murder and mayhem.”
Zuma also criticised people who engaged in violence during protests.
During his state of the nation address three weeks ago Zuma said they would establish special courts to deal with perpetrators of violence during protests.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe also blasted the protestors, saying the government would take measures to deal with them.