I believe the Media share culpability in spreading the Lotting Mindset. By peppering headlines with sensational crimes, would-be criminals somehow feel less hesitant to act. And let's face it, South Africa's newspapers love giving the front page to blood and guts. Personally I felt the Man on Fire during the Xenophobia period was not good in the headlines - because it encouraged/licensed the coninuation, the spread of this 'phase'. I know editors won't agree with me, their salary checks depend on them seeing it the other way - bad news sells, makes money etc. My advice to the editors who care about the country - when it comes to crime, report the facts, but don't sensationalise them and particularly with crime, try to err on the side of drawing less attention to it, rather than the current surfeit...which simply induces fear and paralysis from one set, and activates the other set.
The problem with this theory was that the alleged attackers were young Zimbabweans, not South Africans. Apartheid and a history of racial discrimination did not wash as explanations for their sadism. And why does South Africa bear the brunt of the violence? Why is Zimbabwe relatively free from violent crime? Similarly, why is South Africa so much more violent than Mozambique?
Is there some kind of critical mass of criminals driving social norms which decree that sadism and brutality are acceptable?