SA Police Disservice

Warning sign for police brutality.
Image via Wikipedia

Police brutality in South Africa is hardly new. Most people probably avoid speaking out about it publicly, fearing the unwelcome sound of jack-boots outside their front door in the early hours of the morning, or late hours of the night – just as the police under our former apartheid government were inclined to manoeuvre.

Or perhaps most people are caught in two minds about our police: they would rather have them as a barrier between us [the presumably law-abiding citizens] and the rampant lawlessness engulfing the country – brutality, corruption and incompetence notwithstanding, as opposed to being totally exposed.

Even as I read this blog yesterday by Llewellyn Kriel in M&G’s Thought Leader which describes his personal ordeal of being bullied, manhandled and humiliated by the police at a roadblock, I had no idea of the drama that had unfolded earlier in the day, in Ficksburg in the Free State, also involving our out-of-control police service.

In the latter incident, police brutally assaulted and killed murdered a protestor who was participating in a public demonstration against the ANC-government’s poor record of service delivery in the area.

As Pierre de Vos argues on Constitutionally Speaking, this is not  a very healthy state of affairs for our democracy, flawed as it is:

Where the police becomes a law unto itself, where it sees itself as at war with the community, where it is politicised and sees its task a protecting the leaders of a specific faction of the governing party (as the apartheid era police did), then the police becomes a threat to democracy. Instead of working in partnership with communities to solve crimes, they take sides and see any kind of political protest as illegitimate and as part of a plot to overthrow the government. When that happens the police stops being an institution in service of democracy and starts being an institution in service of itself and of that faction it serves.

Read the full article here.

The New Age of news reporting: news as the government says it should be

Yesterday a special first-edition copy of the soon to be published, new South African national newspaper, The New Age (TNA), was pressed into my hands by a colleague at work. I accepted it reluctantly and put it away with the intention of  perusing it later.

Off course, the reason I accepted the copy reluctantly, was because of the early impressions formed about the newspaper after learning that it was going to be printed with a sympathetic leaning towards the government, by the Gupta family (contributors to the 500K Klan, also known as the ANC). However, after reading about the TNA in Chris Roper’s column in the M&G last night, I decided to actually read the newspaper this morning. Even the advertisements; and boy are there a large number of them, mostly about government departments and initiatives. There is even a full-colour double page spread advertising the Champions League finals for that ghastly 20-20 form of the good game.

Chris Roper was right; there’s nothing new here. The biased slant towards the government (and ANC) is quite obvious. The only new thing about the TNA is that you, the taxpayer will mostly be paying for it, through government advertising. It’s obviously not targeted at the intellectually competent; the simple easy to read style and pro-government angle is aimed at a demographic that keeps the ANC in power. Chris’s assessment and conclusion just about sums up this waste of precious paper:

It’s no accident that the New Age‘s acronym is TNA — if the ads are anything to go by, this is going to be the Tits ‘n Ass of political journalism, a landscape where we’re invited to ogle two component parts that, together, don’t make up anything like the full body.

And one is left in no doubt, that should the dastardly Media Appeals Tribunal ever see the light of day, The New Age will be safe from any persecution, simply by design, or even political intervention if necessary.

The New Age of rose-coloured reporting. Feel it, it is here!!!