S. African rabbi urges anarchy end

JOHANNESBURG — With one rabbi likening the country's crime rate to "anarchy," religious leaders of all stripes recently gathered in a synagogue here to help fight crime.

"We are living in a state of absolute anarchy," Rabbi Yossy Goldman, chairman of the South Africa Rabbinical Association, told 1,200 interreligious leaders at a synagogue service preceding a mass-action meeting in the adjacent hall.

"We are stretcher cases, ICU cases. Life-support machinery is needed."

Goldman, who emigrated here from New York 21 years ago, said he believed that his "crime resume" more than his rabbinic credentials qualified him to address the meeting, which included high-ranking police officers.

Goldman noted that his home was burgled twice, his minibus was stolen, his wife and child were saved from an attempted carjacking and murder, and he himself was the victim of a carjacking in a separate incident.

"As far back as December 1995, President [Nelson] Mandela declared war on crime. This must be a very silent war, fought clandestinely," he added.

Goldman said not providing the country's citizens with basic protection was "immoral."

To spontaneous applause, he issued a "desperate cry to the highest office bearers of our country.

"We say to the government: Give us visible policing and, if it means putting the defense force on the streets — so be it. This is an emergency. Treat it as the emergency it is."