South African writer Nadine Gordimer, who was robbed last week, says she has sympathy for her attackers.
Gordimer campaigned against censorship during the apartheid era
The former Nobel Prize for literature winner was assaulted when four men broke into her Johannesburg home, taking cash and jewellery.
Gordimer told the UK's Guardian newspaper that young people turned to crime in South Africa because they were given no other opportunities.
The 83-year-old author is well-known for her anti-apartheid works.
Describing her ordeal, she said that one of the men had grabbed her and had his arm across her body.
"It was a muscular, smooth arm and I thought: 'Shouldn't there be a better use for these hands, this arm, than robbing an old woman?'
"What a waste of four young men. They should have jobs."
Despite demands to hand over her jewellery, Gordimer refused to part with her wedding ring from her marriage to art dealer Reinhold Cassirer, who died in 2001.
The writer and her maid were then locked up in a storeroom while the thieves fled the scene.
She said that in her opinion more police were not the answer to South Africa's violent crimes.
"There are young people in poverty without opportunities. South Africa needs a huge jobs programme... that will prevent youth from turning to crime," she said.
Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991.
Several of her novels, which include The Conservationist and July's People, were banned under South Africa's apartheid regime.
Her most recent work, Get A Life, was long-listed for the 2006 Booker prize.