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South African Violence Prompts the Chief Rabbi to Offer Solutions

South Africa’s chief rabbi is urging Jewish youth here to join volunteer police forces to help stem the tide of suburban violence.

Speaking at a synagogue peace service last week, Rabbi Cyril Harris said action must be taken to reduce the escalating number of murders, hijackings and burglaries.

Several of the victims of these recent crimes have been Jews. Among the Jewish victims were Andrew goldman, 19, shot dead during a car hijacking, and Lauren de Groen, 22, killed by robbers in a jewelry store.

There is “a great sense of unease at the almost total absence of law and order in this country” Harris said. He urged that steps be taken immediately “to prevent the descent into total anarchy and disarray.”

Of all the evils to which society is prone, the most damning is violence,” the rabbi added.

The rabbi said the government deployment of extra police should extend to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, where the majority of Jews live.

“We are sick and fed up of the lack of authority in the districts in which we live,” Harris said. “We want visible policing of the streets in our areas.”

The rabbi also stressed the need for action.

“I want young men to volunteer for the police reserve. We do have very many young Jewish police reservists and we need a lot more,” he said.

He said the Community Service Organization, which is responsible for security in the Jewish community, would be working with the police to begin security training courses for volunteers.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies issued a statement at the service that offered condolences to the victims and their families and expressed “shock and horror” at the frequency of the incidents.

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