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‘South Africa’s dumbest criminals’ go viral, social media gets racist

Three Johannesburg men found viral fame when they attempted to break into a house while the homeowner stood filming them.

The men are oblivious to the fact they’ve been caught and continue to pry open the gate with a crowbar until the Orange Grove homeowner clears his throat. The men, confused and unsure of what to do, look at each other before walking slowly away from the gate.

The video posted by TimesLIVE on YouTube has garnered 76 000 views in just over a day, alongside the original posting on Facebook that has picked up near on 30, 000. It has been shared just over 1000 times.

It is currently ranked third in trending on YouTube in South Africa.

While crime isn’t a laughing matter, many found the way the robbers made their exit particularly amusing.

Unfortunately, though, the video has produced a lot of racist vitriol as well — and calls for violence against non-violent crimes.

The video harkens back to almost exactly two years ago, when a South African TV journalist was mugged right as he was about to go on air.

SkyNews have disabled comments for the video, but TimesLive have kept theirs open for an onslaught of violent and degrading comments — giving outwardly racist South Africans a guise under which they are able to hide.

Many Facebook users took to the Crime Intelligence & Community Awareness page to describe the violent ways with which they would have handled the situation. The threats ranged from guns to rabid dogs.

The virality of the video may be a source of amusement, as well as a potential source for justice, but it also highlights the troubling ways in which South Africans believe criminals should be treated.

And while a lot of the vitriol obviously stems from racism, some stems from a society troubled by high crime rates and dismal policing — being pushed to violence out of sheer frustration at a system that doesn’t work.

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More

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