A Global Fault-Line that Challenges Humankind


by Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen

Pretoria, South Africa


Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen is a noted criminologist and the former director of a major South African criminology research institute; he currently serves as a Research Consultant to the University of South Africa where he directs the work of postgraduate students of criminal justice and the science of asset protection and security control. Dr. van der Westhuizen received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Arts with honors, Master of Arts cum laude as well as his Ph.D. degree from the University of South Africa. He is a member of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association, the International Police Association, and an Associate Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.


The author is raising a controversial matter by defining, describing, explaining, predicting, and analyzing what he considers to be a (symbolic) global fault-line that challenges humankind. The seriousness of such a proposition may perhaps raise doubt and constructive criticism. With this in mind I shall endeavor to highlight a small portion of the story on the flipside of the fault-line saga – one that sees glimmers of hope and positive life for all and sundry and one that outshines the fault-line which will be described in this commentary.


Chevron, advertising in Time, February 11, 2008, says that the world is growing by more than 70 million people annually; and then poses the question whether this is a problem, or whether that presents us with a solution. For Chevron the solution is to tap ‘the most powerful source of energy in the world: ourselves, and (then to) watch what the human race can do.’        


Heed must forthwith be taken that all our opinions, generalizations, and propositions are direct products of our perceptions, which is the ability of our minds to refer sensory information to an external object as its cause.


Thus, our comprehension is predicated on our perceptions.   

1.0              Introduction

1.1              fault-line


In defining the key word fault-line I would like to point out that we work here with two concepts: one, a fault that can be defined, among others, as a defect, an error, a want, a handicap, a leak, a nuisance, an imperfection, and/or a breakdown; and two, a line or a curve connecting all points having a specified common property; displaying a linear function, involving one dimension only; also commonly known as a factor. A fault-line is thus a multi-defined concept, reflecting a multitude of associated problems or defects, bound together in unison by their calamitous nature and threatening potential. 


1.2              Points on the fault-line                                        


           The following points qualify for inclusion on the fault-line:

                      1.2.1 poverty suffered by people 

                       want of the necessities of life, pauperism, destitution,

           1.2.2  overcrowding

                                   congested, jammed, spaces packed to capacity by people

1.2.3  famine

        insufficiency, deficiency, starving, shortage

                       1.2.4  crime, vice, and violence

                                   assault, theft, corruption, murder, rape, fraud, invasion

                       1.2.5  pollution and contamination

                                   of air, water, soil, food, lifestyle, AIDS

                       1.2.6  inbreeding 

                                   deformed and infirm children, incest

                1.2.7  segregation, discrimination, and unemployment  

                        nuisance value, trouble-shooting by police, illness, HIV-

                                   AIDS high rate of mortality, high rate of arrest,

                                   prosecution and punishment , prostitution, sex perversions,

                                   juvenile abuse (such as pornography, child labor, soldiering,

                                   sex slavery, prostitution, drug trafficking, drug taking,

                                   kidnapping for ransom, and running away from

                                   home/taking to the streets)

                1.2.8  drug and alcohol abuse

                        smuggling rife, work as mules for drug lords, high rate of

                                   total addiction, illegal trade


2.0              Normality and built-in obsolescence


Strange as it may sound to the unaccustomed ear, we shall have to return promptly to two familiar concepts in order to grasp the real meaning and significance of the proposed fault-line.


The idea of ‘normality of human characteristics’ or still better, the normal distribution of human traits, is as old as science itself. We may as well call it the law of normal distribution of human traits.


Then again we use the same curve to illustrate the normal growth pattern, among others, of enterprises; governments; civilizations; institutions; organizations; as well as  political, economic, social, religious, educational, and administration of justice systems, and their inevitable surrender to built-in obsolescence and collapse.


This law takes on a bell-shaped curve as shown below


Distribution of material status as an example


a = the poorest of the poor

b = poor people

c + d = middle class

e = well-to-do people

f = very rich people



Growth pattern and built-in obsolescence


                  a + b = positive acceleration (growth)                  


                     c = negative acceleration (growth)


            d = negative deceleration ( decline/annihilation/collapse )


          e + f = positive deceleration ( decline/annihilation/collapse )




Three very important deductions can be made here: one, the trait distribution curve illustrates the tight and everlasting bond between all the members of the human race; two, it also makes nonsense of the belief that some members of the human race  should be relegated to the back burner and treated like aliens from distant galaxies. Three, the growth curve vividly portrays the inevitable decline and collapse of all man-made structures, such as civilizations, global enterprises, organizations, political systems, and the like.


3.0              Point-clarification on the declared fault-line


3.1              Poverty


Max du Preez(1, asserts emphatically that ‘South Africa (is) a dystopia of denialism’ and that ‘the lack of accountability and a refusal to take responsibility is to blame for our woes.’


It does seem that the gaps between the ’haves’ and the ‘haves-not’ have been widening by the day, eventually causing distrust, animosity, and strive between these two groups, even to such an alarming extent that war has been declared between them. If we take heed of the way in which the victims of crime are eliminated and annihilated, without mercy and in the most horrendous ways and means imaginable, it is a short move away from concluding that the freedom fighters are here to pick up the tab and claim their spoils which had been denied them in an extraordinary friendly negotiation peace agreement between those that fought for freedom and those that gave up their rule. The real danger that seems to threaten mankind comes to pass when the HAVES-NOT masses decide to take over the lead; the political winds of change that swept over Polikwane, in South Africa last year, for example, send out a clear message, one that unites the majority of the needy people against those in better financial positions.     


We return to see how the ranks of the poor and the poorest of the poor have been swelled of late.


The fact that interest rates on home loans have been upped, and owners have found it impossible to afford the higher monthly mortgage payments, has relegated many a family to join ranks with the poorest of the poor in South Africa.


Writing about World Affairs Daan Joubert(2 explains the reason for his criticizing some of the so-called experts who featured prominently in the ‘Subprime Saga’ in the USA. The Darwin Awards are awarded posthumously, or rather post-humorously, to people who enrich the genetic pool by personally withdrawing them from it because of their foolish behavior.


Predicting dark days for South Africans because of ESKOM’S failure to supply adequate electricity and power to the country, Jan de Lange(3 says that too many questions (with no sustainable answers) are being asked by all and sundry.


Worst of all six Metro-rail trains were set alight when power failure or power shedding had been introduced, bringing railroad traveling to a halt, and causing millions of rand of damages to the industry.(4 


Willem Pretorius(5 tries to explain the entire dilemma of South Africa (and the World for that matter) through the eyes and pen of Naomi Klein, who wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times, under the title The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She says that each and every economic crisis of our time has been followed by a (far) right economic revolution in its wake. Whenever a crisis emerges, panic strikes and spreads, enticing the ideologists to surge forward to fill the vacuum, and to reform communities in line with the interests of big companies and businesses. Klein’s theory is based on this proposition. She quotes from the work of three economic thinkers: a) Dani Rodrik: ‘No significant example of a trade reform in a developing nation during the 1980’s has been reported to have taken place outside the context of serious economic crises;’ b) Morgan Friedman: ‘Politicians use the strategies of Disaster Capitalism to achieve their objectives. (i) a crisis, on its own – real or imaginary – can bring on a real change; (ii) when that crisis happens, the actions that follow are based on the ideas that are floating about; (iii) that, I think, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to our current policies, to keep them alive and well until the politically-impossible turns into the politically-inevitable’; and c) John Williamson, considered to be the brain behind the concept ‘Washington Consensus’, had asked whether policy makers could not ignite a crisis so that political obstructions could be removed. Thus, a crisis is created, allowing someone to change the current policy direction, and persuading the people to accept the outlay of more expenses and higher costs in exchange for better returns and more handsome profits on investment.


However, on the flipside of the coin a different sad song is being sung.  While the HAVES have among many other niceties the money, the status, the brains, the clout, the know-how, the standing, as well as the access and the authority to high places; the poor people, the HAVES-NOT, who are trapped in the Fault-line, lack all of the goodies that brighten the lives of their Big Brothers whose homes are high up on the Hill, well beyond the flood-line of want, crime, insecurity, fear, overcrowding, pollution, vice, conflict, and horrendous constraints. Here, the HAVES-NOT live a life of now-or-never, stay-forever, cling-together, through shine and weather, as tough as leather. And most of them have accepted their fate, their inevitable destiny, their legacy of being underdogs, their culture of failure and setbacks – locked-up in a time-space fault-line of disaster.   


3.2              Overcrowding

Overcrowding is not only endemic to poor, destitute people, but overcrowded roads may cause road deaths by the number in future. ‘Nurse killed taxi driver in road rage.’(6


Helen Grange(7 reported about ‘Losing the rag is all the rage in cyberspace: she says that ‘there have been cases of Internet users around the world taking their rage into the real world. Last year in Britain, for example, Paul Gibbons, a 47-year-old man with a history of violence, hunted down a fellow user of Yahoo’s Muslim 10 chat room and slit his throat. In South Korea, the most wired country in the world, cyber attacks have been so ferocious that they have caused users to adopt new internet identities, leave the country in shame or commit suicide.’ The fact that people lose control in cyberspace has been dubbed ‘online disinhibition effect’ by US psychologists, because the person flying off into cyberspace rage imagines him- or herself as being immune from backlashes and reactive harm.


Apart from these overcrowding phenomena we may also witness how people are ‘swallowed up’ by debt traps and poverty, as being pointed out supra.


Worst of all the combined effect of poverty and overcrowding spawns other ill-conceived effects, such as crime, vice, and violence, which leave in their wake horrendous inroads of aftermath disaster and heartbreaks. Thus the fault-line becomes a veritable hotbed of evil and unforeseen devastating consequences.  


3.3              Famine


Wolves of famine and want come to knock at the poor man’s door, they do their stint like armed soldiers of fortune, ruffians who leave no room for pity or merci, activists that slit a throat or send a bullet through their victim’s head with the drop of a hat. They just scoop up the last remnants of property in the house, leaving the overawed and flustered victims more devastated than before.


3.4              Crime, vice, and violence


Poor, overcrowded communities tend to breed crime, vice, and violence, especially because law and order are not in place and the police from afar do not bother to get involved. It’s really a very sad song, sung by people crying for justice and a better deal, but getting a cold shoulder and an icy stare instead. The only option open to the inhabitants seems to be a decision to take the law into their own hands and to punish the culprits after they have answered to a kangaroo court conducted and run by the inhabitants themselves.    


3.5              Pollution and contamination


Business Times(8  February 3, 2008  p. 1 loudly proclaims: ‘Now it’s a water crises. Radioactive contamination, unsafe dams and waste spills threaten South Africa,’ write Bobby Jordan and Marcia Klein.


They continue by saying that ‘South Africa is on the brink of a water contamination crisis: a) 43% of the dams managed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) have safety problems and require urgent repair; b) An estimated R180-billion is needed to repair ageing water service infrastructure countrywide;  c) Waste water from mining operations appears to have seeped in the country’s ground water system, raising concerns about future water supply; d) Vegetables and fish collected from the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area west of Johannesburg have been contaminated with radioactive uranium, as well as heavy metals and salts, seriously affecting the milk and meat supply from the area; and e) immediate intervention is needed at 30% of municipal waste water treatment works in order to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as typhoid.


Overcrowding of people in jammed informal settlements, especially near rivers, exacerbate the water pollution problem to alarming proportions.


South African Municipal Workers Union researcher, Jeff Rudin said ‘the breakdown of monitoring and treatment of services was a national disaster waiting to happen. The (water) crisis we’re in is exactly replicating the electricity crisis.’


          3.6    Inbreeding


Overcrowding and poverty may oftentimes fuel the flames of sexual abuse and sexual perversion. Incest is a transgression of family values and norms and an action that is not condoned anywhere in the world. Inbreeding spawns infirm, disabled, or deformed children into the world and is therefore shunned by all. However, evidence abounds that these despicable and cowardly acts of disdainful evil doers continue.


           3.7     Segregation, discrimination, and unemployment


Segregation, discrimination, and unemployment go hand in hand and may sometimes, in combination, lead to police targeting, arrests and prosecutions for petty infringements of the law.



             3.8    Drug and alcohol abuse


Drug and alcohol abuse is endemic to all modern societies over the world. It goes with a child’s longing for new adventures, new feelings, and new experiences; but also with a longing to use an escape route that takes him or her off to a virtual world where there are some rest and relaxation for a tired burnt-out and thinly worn spirit.



             3.9    Stress and Distress


The signs of child destabilization in regard to mindsets that are over crammed with information and knowledge; and overstressed by more and more demands for perfection and disciplinary excellence are there for all to see nowadays. Children are not children anymore. Modern-day requirements and constraints have rendered them devoid of innocence, childlike enthusiasm, and likeable characteristics.



         3.10    Independent administration of justice units


In a democratic rule of law set-up it has become imperative that all the different links in the criminal justice chain function independently of each other in order to render the best, soundest, most reliable, and valid products thinkable. These links are called a) the police, assisted by detectives; b) the prosecution authority; c) the criminal courts; d) the prison administration; and e) the legislation body. This is a given. There is no other alternatives open to any democratic dispensation.


4.0 Remedial measures to prevent the fault-line from wreaking havoc


4.1              Suspend non-essential residential development

A call goes out from Mike Norris in a letter to Business Report(10 to suspend non-essential residential development, for example security complexes and golf course homes which have sprung up in their hundreds overnight, occupying land and space that could have been earmarked for something better.


4.2              Improve influx and border control, saving jobs and job opportunities for the local inhabitants


Influx control is implemented in all the great countries of the world, and it should also be practiced in South Africa to safeguard our economy and industries.


4.3              Eradicate poverty and want by creating jobs and opportunities to climb vertical ladders


Teach and condition people to bring less children into the world and to                                               guarantee for the precious few a great chance to be raised up to achieve precious goals in life.


4.4              Re-instate Private Rights: id est. allow people to own and to dispose of their property at will, without constraints and undue hassles


Once pride in home ownership and family life have been re-instated, families would on their own return to a balanced few offspring that would allow the parents to lead a happy, relaxed life together.


4.5              Endeavor to cultivate pride of ownership with home owners, at the same time re-instating the home as a national asset and the hub of family, community, and societal life.


A very serious effort must be made to instill concentric values and norms, ranging from the individual member of the family, through the family unit onto the community, the society, and the government/state at large.


4.6              Get rid of discrimination in all walks of life: from the top to the bottom; from the president and his men and women down to each family member


Rid all laws, all systems, and all structures of even the smallest vestiges of prejudice, pride, and discriminatory rules, regulations, and prescriptions. Democracy or democratic rule does not propagate any discrimination, and if it does, the people in charge are living a lie and would not be allowed to rule for long. Most of all preserve certain essential/imperative crime-fighting units such as a) The Scorpions (Unit established by legislation to prevent Corruption and Fraud); b) the Police-Child-and-Rape-Care Unit; c) The Unit of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention; and c) Unit to prevent and deal with Violence against Women and Children).


4.7   Tackle the so-called faults in the fault-line with renewed energy and power


Concentrate first of all on the environment: get rid of shacks; build more houses; install lights in the streets and in the homes; get rid of sjebeens, or houses of ill-repute, illegal bottle stores and bars, and squatters; do not allow streets to be occupied by unlicensed shops or vendors; install  and provide municipal services to their fullest extent: provide adequate infra-structure throughout the residential area at affordable costs, such as water, lights, rubbish removal, street repair and adequate street lighting; and day and night patrol of the suburb, regular police-inhabitant forums and meetings to plan the implementation of future security measures together. 


Next turn full attention to policing and the implementation of law and order. Establish police stations throughout the territory so that there are at least 100 police officers per 1000 inhabitants, which could later on be increased to 200 or 300 per 1000 inhabitants. Provide 20 patrol cars per 1000 inhabitants in the area.               


Vigorously oppose drug trafficking, alcohol abuse, illegal trade, corruption, bribery, fraud, assault, kidnapping, rape, and family violence.


Get the Police to take back and to take over every street and cranny in the suburb, practicing New York’s strategy of zero tolerance, urging everyone to set an example to juveniles and teaching them to get active and alive on the sports field and on the recreation floor, shunning the virtual worlds of oblivion.


5.0 Remedial measures proposed by the Tshwane Metro Council to

relieve the plight of the poor(11


The plan is to register 90 000 households as indigent and qualified to receive free basic services, such as 12kl water per month and 100kw electricity per month.


The following criteria apply:


5.1              If the total gross monthly income of all the members of the household does not exceed the joint pensions of two old age State pensioners of less than R1 700 a month;

5.2              If the applicant as well as any other member of the household does not own other fixed property than the one on which they currently reside;

5.3              The person/applicant applying on behalf of a household must be 18 years of age or above, and must live at the property;

5.4              The said person must be the lessee or owner of the property;

5.5              The said person must be a South African citizen;

5.6              Certified copies of the following documents must accompany the application:  

5.6.1        Proof of income/sworn affidavit if unemployed

5.6.2        Copies of Identity Books of applicant, spouse, and all dependents

5.6.3        Latest municipal account

5.6.4        Birth certificates of children and proof of their attending school by producing a report card or a letter from the principal of the school

5.6.5        Proof of marital status (marriage certificate, divorce certificate, or customary union/living together; death certificate if applicable).


6.0 A superficial evaluation of the Tshwane Metro Council’s

Action Plan


6.1                 Clearance of applications


6.2                 Monitoring the status quo of the residences monthly


6.3                 Updating the file records regularly


6.4                 Flagging problem cases and doing the necessary follow-up work


6.5                 Arrange monthly meetings with the authorities with a view to adopt resolutions in respect of homeowners that fail to qualify for further support


6.6                 Accept and clear new applications for Indigent Support


All-in-all this package represents a quite formidable and complex task ahead of municipal workers and one that calls for a competent, confident, skilled, and dedicated workforce.



7.0  In Conclusion


With current risk factors, such as overpopulation, poverty, crime, violence, and drugs – ranging from 0.1 to 0.5, pitted against an estimated increase of 0.5 to 0.9 – the threat which is expected to be imposed by the defined fault-line, can be gauged to escalate the likelihood of the world being decimated of their current lifestyle by at least one hundred percent.


If the gap between the HAVES and the HAVES-NOT is allowed and stimulated to widen, the HAVES can expect and be assured that a new game plan will be occurring emergently.


For one thing, we can expect to get involved in a type of low-profile war with the emergent group, a war that will be characterized by one or more of the following truths: a) in a state of war the law has little weight; b) where drums beat, laws are silent; and c) the more laws, the more offenders (and more people with criminal records).


Then again one has to be reminded that the gap between the HAVES and the HAVES-NOT is incidentally, but also deliberately, expanded by notions and ideas that revolves round the following myths: (i) there’s one law for the rich, and one for the poor; (ii) the law catch flies, but let the hornets get free; (iii) possession is nine points of the law; and (iv) necessity knows no law.       


While we are not shutting our eyes to the inevitable deterioration of mankind that is going to haunt us soon, we are constantly reminded of the nagging truths which seem to rationalize the pro-actions, actions and reactions of the emergent state: aa) he who keeps company with the wolf, will soon learn to howl: bb) a hungry man is an angry man; cc) the show is not over till the lean lady sings; and dd) every why has a wherefore.


Nowadays too many “experts” are called up by the media to solve the world’s pressing issues, “talking heads’ that add much more ambiguity and wooliness to the topic in question than clearing the air or highlighting points which could possibly be used to resolve the problem in hand. Recently a learned panel discussed the outcome of the Polekwane Congress mentioned supra  but failed to see the real metamorphic effects of the new emergent political, economical, educational, judicial, and medical systems. One of the panel members even avers that it does not take a degree in space technology to come up with a feasible solution whereby the democratic political system could easily merge with capitalism – only in order to prevent any further acts and transactions of corruption and fraud in government departments in South Africa. No mention was made of the necessary independence of the political and the economic systems. The entire panel also failed to recognize the inevitable changeover to a socialistic type of dispensation in which democracy and capitalism would be phased out forever.


Nevertheless, we can rest assured that communities and societies all over the world are anxious to alleviate the plight of the poor and the poorest of the poor and to uplift them to higher planes of living and opportunities to achieve success and peace of mind. There are many plans afoot to unravel the fault-line and to reduce its threatening intent to zero amperes.


 Let’s hope that we would still have the time and the opportunity to do just that.



8.0              References


8.1              Max du Preez in the Pretoria News of 31/01/2008


8.2              Daan Joubert in Business24 of January 21, 2008, p.10 ;


                   also refer to Website


8.3              ibid.


8.4              Pretoria News,  05/02/08,  p. 2 


                              (one USD  :  $1.00 = 7.5 South African rand = R7.50)


8.5              Willem Pretorius quotes from an article by Naomi Klein, Los Angeles Times, ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.’


8.6              Pretoria News 28/11/2007 p. 5


8.7              Pretoria News  04/12/2007, p. 10


8.8              Business Times,  February 3, 2008,  p. 1 : Bobby Jordan and Marcia Klein


8.9              South African Municipal Workers Union researcher, Jeff Rudin


8.10          Mike Norris in a letter to Business Report: 29/01/2008, p. 2


8.11          Pretoria News, February 5, 2008, p.2


8.12          Fergusson, Rosalind. 1995. The Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs. London: Claremont Books


Jacob van der Westhuizen Pretoria, South Africa  © Finis


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