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The tavern shootings in Soweto and Pietermaritzburg, which killed about 19 people at the weekend, may be isolated and unrelated incidents the cause of which is as yet unknown but they are ominous nonetheless for a number of reasons.

They raise the spectre of a growing tendency of lawlessness which is given free rein by the country’s inadequate crime intelligence and policing which have been highlighted again and again. The quarterly police statistics are evidence that the police are not adequately coping with the tidal wave of crime and the activities of organised crime syndicates who have access to a vast pool of unlicensed firearms...

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