The harrowing images of a mother dropping her baby from a burning building to onlookers below is a haunting reminder of the violence and looting that erupted in mid-July in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. For days our cities and towns were in the grips of such chaos that even the SA Police Service seemed overwhelmed and unable to deal with it.

While the deployment of the SA National Defence Force quelled the destruction somewhat, its efforts came only days after the anarchy erupted and much of the damage was done. On one hand, it says a lot about the safety of our cities and the capacity of the powers-that-be to ensure all our safety. On the other, it reinforced an argument long made — that safety, and preventing crime and violence require the effort and contribution of society at large...

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