The way I see it, the main issue is hardly whether our leaders are aware of the current social situation or not; the issue is the flagrant disregard for democratic principles, if not something equally disturbing, namely dereliction of duty.
Let me explain.
It is probable that they are at least as aware of the crime realities as any person living in this country, and yet they apparently choose to ignore, deny and repeatedly refuse to address them in any meaningful way.
These are the people who are the elected representatives of all voting South Africans, their point of focus and entry into matters that are of concern to the voting majority. Prime among their duties is protecting the rights enshrined in the constitution, which include the right to life, safety and security. This duty cannot be delegated for fear of abuses resulting from self-interest, so it is both spurious and indeed insulting to pass the buck straight back to the people who only ask that their elected leaders do their designated jobs.
At the same time, various media constitute the only real handbrake that stops government and/or business from committing abuses of power against people. Or so the theory goes. Our South African media have largely forgotten that they are meant play this rôle, and they have consequently in many cases served people poorly, especially with regard to violent crime to which we have become inured to the point of callous disregard.
Two recent TV-led opinion polls showed results in which some 98 per cent of respondents agreed that “crime is out of control,” and 86 per cent thought that “FNB was wrong to drop its anti-crime advertising campaign.” Now it is true that these polls were informal and without any controls against sampling error, and as such are open to criticism; nevertheless, in each case there were around 10,000 respondents, which is a statistically significant sample size. It is, moreover, reasonable to assume that, given the platform (TV and cell 'phone response), most respondents fell into the very groups most affected by crime, namely the lower and middle classes.
Even allowing for as much as 20 per cent sampling error, the results would still be compelling: at least 78 per cent of people think that crime is out of control, and more than 69 per cent think that FNB was wrong to abort its campaign. In any language, these numbers are majorities, yet our leaders continue to ignore them. Any alert democracy would, for the sake of its own survival, probably initiate remedial action. At the very least, a referendum would be launched to gauge properly the public sentiment.
We see nothing of the sort, and that is why I think that our leaders are delinquent in respect of democratic principles and their duties.