S.Africa Web Site Offers Gruesome Glimpse Of Crime

Reuters, July 6, 2006

South Africans outraged at high levels of violent crime launched a new Web site on Thursday dedicated to giving visitors “a preview of death and violence” in the country ahead of the 2010 Football World Cup.

The site, Crime Expo SA (www.crimexposouthafrica.co.za), will eventually feature graphic photos of murder victims provided by their families as well as a breakdown of bloody attacks by region, organizers said.

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Plans for the Web site have ruffled feathers among officials seeking to build South Africa’s brand ahead of the 2010 World Cup, with some warning that negative perceptions of security in the country could scare off potential visitors.

“We are concerned about the appropriateness of any information campaign that focuses only on the negatives and ignores the growing range of successes in the fight against crime,” the International Marketing Council said in a statement.

Neil Watson, a Cape Town insurance broker who founded the web site, said frightening off foreign tourists and their much needed dollars and pounds might be the only way to jolt South African officials into getting serious about crime.

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South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, with rapes, murders and violent car hijackings regularly making headlines in the local press.

Police officials concede that crime is a problem but often blame the media for sensationalizing incidents, particularly when they involve the wealthy white minority.

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