With crime spiraling out of control here, Rabbi Yossy Goldman, spiritual head of the largest Orthodox congregation, has been in the forefront of a campaign against crime.
A sermon the rabbi recently delivered at the Sydenham-Highlands North Hebrew Congregation led to a recent motorcade of 650 vehicles that went from the northern suburbs — where the majority of Jews live — to the city center. The cars were participating in a citizen-sponsored “Drive Against Crime.”
The rabbi’s wife, Rochel Goldman, and 2-year-old son were nearly killed recently when their minibus was hijacked.
At the city center, motorcade participants gave a petition to Jessie Duarte, a minister of safety, who expressed support for the demonstration.
Goldman told motorcade participants, “How sad, how tragic, that one short year ago our country was full of hope, jubilation and euphoria. Today we are paralyzed by fear and oppression.”
Most of the demonstrators were victims of crime, especially car hijackings.
Other residents of the northern suburbs have not been as lucky as Rochel Goldman and her son. Hijackings, armed robberies and murders occur daily.
Hijack victim Sue Lazarus warned against complacency.
“We have to make the country safe for the youth. They are our future,” she said.
Although white South Africans, including Jews, are generally happy under the government of Nelson Mandela, the escalating crime is causing many of them to emigrate.
Goldman, an American who is determined to remain here, has coined the slogan “Don’t Emigrate, Demonstrate.”
“I cannot accept that our political leaders who were able to find a solution to the most complex problem of our time — South Africa’s unique political problem — cannot find a solution to the problem of crime,” he said.
“Every country has to deal with crime. There are effective ways and means.”