Luvuyo and his wife have been feeding their five children from their farming practice deep in the forests of the Mtakatye river valley for over 12 years. A former schoolmate of mine, Luvuyo lost any hope of getting a job on the platinum mines when his father was retrenched in 2000. In despair, he went back home to the Wild Coast, where he fell into a life of "crime". Except his crimes have no known victims. Perhaps he himself is often a victim.
Aged 40 now, Luvuyo has never had a formal job. His standard 8 (grade 10) education is not good enough for any employer. He spent the better part of seven years living in a shack and hostel compounds as a guest of his father in Rustenburg, vainly looking and hoping to crack a job at the platinum mines some 1,500km away from home.
After harvesting hundreds of bags of marijuana, he does not have an easily accessible market to which he can hawk his produce. Instead he has to rely on his customers — dealers from the cities — to come and buy and collect their stash. Needless to say, they determine the prices they will pay for his toil. There are not many options for Luvuyo; he mostly has to accept the customer’s offer.
Of course there can be no safekeeping for the produce, either for the customer or the farmer.
The farmer is always at risk from the many winter veld fires, even after he’s harvested, for he can’t keep his produce at home.
The proceeds augment his irregular income as a builder in the village, plus the child support grants his wife collects for four of the children.
The customers have to risk jail by transporting their green acquisition back to the city, often on public transport. Only there can anyone hope to get a decent price that somewhat compensates for the risk of being a drug dealer.
Luvuyo’s other good customers are the holiday-makers who frequent the pristine beaches of the Transkei on vacation. Many trawl the village on their motorbikes and 4x4 vehicles looking for Pondoland’s best produce.
Most smoke at leisure while enjoying the beautiful scenery, and save some to take back home.
Another "crime" that has no known victims is prostitution. Anyone who has been to any area with a sizeable community of migrants — from cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, to a small country town with some industrial activity in Limpopo or insignificant and poor towns like Mthatha — is nightly confronted by mostly young women, in skimpy clothing, selling their bodies.
In towns like Lephalale in Limpopo, where Eskom employs some 20,000 workers in the construction of its Medupi power station, sex workers rule the streets at night.
Like Luvuyo, the farmer at the other far corner of the country, they daily have to escape police officers who have long given up on arresting the trade itself.
But the sex workers are also a good source of income for many crooked police officers, as well as ruthless pimps who abuse their vulnerable position to extract undue and illegal favours from them.
Many of these daughters, mothers, sisters and even sons are unskilled breadwinners who support families, or pay tuition fees from the proceeds of their apparently illegal trade.
But who are the victims of these crimes? When two consenting adults enter into a transaction to buy and sell sex, who is the victim?
Dagga grows naturally. What harmful effects does dagga have on the smoker? How different is that from the effects of alcohol on the human body and on the economy?
Relative to the billions of rand wasted vainly trying to combat both sex work and possession of dagga over the centuries, has anyone imagined how much tax could be raised from the legal trade in both?