As South Africans we should be proud of our progress in decreasing crime and poverty in our country. It’s been a long road, and definitely not over, but we have made progress and I think it’s fair to be recognized for our efforts.
Unfortunately, with the influence of media (and particularly social media), often a different picture is depicted of South Africa, or at the very least, a misrepresented one. Journalism and social media is at times unregulated and thrives on stories that induce drama and evoke reaction.
We can agree that South Africa was notorious for having a high crime rate. As proud South Africans, we fought to stop that in various ways even though it will never be fully stopped.
As we continue to implement projects and services aimed to eradicate poverty and decrease crime rate, it’s important that we simultaneously look to accurately represent our image and efforts in the media, so that people worldwide have an accurate depiction of our country. It’s unfortunate when events such as the murder of Anni Dewani caused the media to sensationalize South Africa as a crime-ridden country and revert the area back to a place it was decades ago.
The situation involving Shrien Dewani, a 31-year-old British man who framed his driver Zola Tongo for murdering his wife while conducting a Township tour, generated negative, international coverage.
As the story unfolded, more details and allegations including dealers and hit men were involved, thus making it an even more complicated story. The point is however is that South Africa was heavily impacted by the negative news coverage and almost seemed to overtake any other positive and promising efforts highlighted at earlier times in the media.
We cannot stop what the public says about this country or perceptions placed, but we have to constantly strive to improve South Africa to be the best it can be for its citizens and in-coming visitors.
We encourage all of you to be South Africa’s best ambassador. It’s only when we vocalize our pride for our country that other people will begin to understand why we value and love South Africa as much as we do.