Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Challenge to "Huntley Thesis" on Crime

hat tip: black coffee

I'm not sure what to make of this, and hope that others are able to analyse it better than I. At first glance, however, it does seem that using Cape Town as a case study skews the data somewhat. It also would seem to me that comparing a drunken stabbing [=1 murder] to a home invasion murder [=1 murder] does not do justice to the facts. There is a distinct difference between murder by assault - where both victim and perpetrator are partly at fault - and a hijacking or home invasion where a helpless victim is executed. Crunching the numbers alone means nothing, imho.

On race and crime in SA

Gavin Silber - Nathan Geffen
11 January 2010

Silber & Geffen argue that black SAns are indeed disproportionately targeted

Race, class & violent crime in South Africa: Dispelling the ‘Huntley thesis'


Brandon Huntley was granted asylum in Canada earlier this year based on the argument that whites are disproportionately affected by crime in South Africa. The decision was generally condemned, but it did receive support from various groups and individuals including Afriforum, the Freedom Front and James Myburgh (editor of Politicsweb). In this article we show the flaws in Huntley's argument by presenting evidence from several sources that demonstrate that black and poor people are disproportionately the victims of violent crime in South Africa. We are concerned that painting whites as the primary victims of South Africa's social ills is unproductive, ungenerous and potentially hampers the appropriate distribution of resources to alleviate crime. Furthermore, in order to move the debate on crime in South Africa into a more productive direction, we also describe the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) - a relatively new community based organisation that aims to mobilise communities around improving safety and security for all in South Africa, regardless of race or income. Campaigning for novel pragmatic and coordinated community and government responses to the broader lack of safety and security in the country, the SJC focuses on the introduction and development of basic infrastructure and services as a means of reducing crime.


Everyone in South Africa is affected by crime, and the consequent sense of insecurity that comes with living in fear. Some encounter it directly, others through the experiences of friends and family, and just about all of us through news media, which routinely reminds us of the abundant violence that has come to characterise our society. Yet despite this collective concern, far too little has been done both to mobilise people across class, gender, national and racial barriers to advocate for improved crime reduction strategies; and to call on all people in South Africa to contribute personally towards creating safer communities.

The recent ase of South African Brandon Huntley, who earlier this year received refugee status in Canada, has exposed the divided perceptions of crime across race and class. Huntley's lawyers reportedly convinced an immigration review board that ‘the ANC government was failing to protect the white minority from criminal violence perpetrated by black South Africans'.[1] Consequently, 142 academics signed an open letter to the Charge d'Affaires of Canada in South Africa denouncing the decision, stating,

The outrageously distorted representation of contemporary South Africa does not square with the realities in our country, by any factual measure. While the crime rates in South Africa are high as a consequence of numerous interrelated factors - many of which are the working through of the past brutalization of our society by the system of white supremacy, and none of which relate to inherent criminal tendencies in black people - it is simply untrue that white people are being targeted disproportionately. Black South Africans are much more likely to be victims of crime, largely because they are less able to afford the protections and security measures which most white South Africans, as still privileged citizens, are able to acquire.

But Huntley's argument was sympathetically received by many in the white community. The Freedom Front Plus stated, ‘For the ANC to label the decision of Canada to grant the South African, Brandon Huntley, asylum status, as racist, is in itself racist.'[2] Afriforum is considering intervening as an amicus (friend of the court) in support of Huntley if his case is appealed.[3] James Myburgh, the editor of Politicsweb (a popular political news and opinion website) has disputed the facts of the academics' open letter (see article). He uses the findings of victimisation surveys to argue that contrary to the claim made in the open letter, it is in fact whites - and lately Indians - who are disproportionately affected by crime. Myburgh's argument is the most articulate presentation of what we call the Huntley Thesis: the argument that whites are disproportionately affected by crime (perpetrated by blacks).

read the rest of the article here.

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

I know from experience that a lot of blacks struggle with the "per capita" concept as I have tried to explain it to many in vain on many different occasions.

The author that claims blacks are targeted more frequently than whites, also does not understand the concept of "per capita".

It is an IQ issue.

Anonymous said...

Or a blind issue.