The South African Police…diligently serving their political masters since apartheid

In democracies which function properly ie. where elected officials serve the people, headlines such as Nottinghamshire police ranked worst, is not too common, but rather alarming for ordinary people.

Not in South Africa though. In this pessimist-induced society, such headlines are extremely likely to be greeted with comments such as “so what’s new.” Rather than being alarmed, the ordinary person would merely shrug his shoulders, blurt out some derogatory remark aimed at the government, and get on with his life. However, there are others, like myself who would be moved to comment online or write a letter to the editor of a newspaper to express concern or disgust, but would still feel, and actually be generally powerless to do more.

The South African Police as a force across the country, pretty much fares the same in terms of poor performance. I think it’s very probable that the Nottinghamshire guys would stand out like a paragon of excellence when compared to any police unit in South Africa. That is not to say that the South African police is totally useless. Amazingly, there are police officers who do shine, but they are such a small minority, they pale into insignificance when you look at the problems with policing in this country.

While reading that article, I was pointed to a government website run by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary, which provides information and statistics on how well the Police in England are performing. The HMIC’s website states its motto as Inspecting Policing in the Public Interest and shows:

  • how safe you are. In South Africa we know this very well; we are not very safe at all, and the police statistics can’t be trusted
  • how much is spent on your police. In South Africa we’ll never know how much is being spent on the police for sure, but we’ll always know how much that should have been spent on the police is actually being frittered away by corrupt and incompetent government officials
  • whether they perform well and if they are likely to improve. In South Africa, the jury is already out on this; the police don’t perform well at all, and it’s highly unlikely they will ever improve given the current political circumstances

We have nothing even remotely close to such a website service in South Africa. In fact, when the Police authorities do release statistics on crime, they are always hounded by accusations of fiddling with the figures and cover-ups, and justifiably so. It’s actually safe to say that the safety and security authorities which fall under the government haven’t got a clue when it comes to crime, and how well the police are performing to combat it, let alone being able to show which units are more effective, or whether our money is being spent effectively.

However, it’s not entirely the fault of the Police services, that we have this grossly unjust situation in the country. The current Police Force is a relic from the days of apartheid. The current ANC-led government inherited a Police Force who were largely trained to police apartheid-era policies; in effect they served the government of the day, not the people. Instead of re-training and de-indoctrinating the police of old to serve the people which would be the right thing to do, the new government neglected to do so. Perhaps it was an oversight in the beginning, but recent events leads one to believe that retaining a police force that serves the government before the people, has become a useful tool of the new ANC-led abomination that masquerades as a government.

Taxpayers money that should be spent on re-tooling and re-educating the Police Force is diverted instead to buying outrageously expensive vehicles (amongst other things) for the dark-suits that controls the police, including the Minister of Police himself; not to mention the ludicrous sums of money the esteemed Minister deems necessary for accommodation at elite hotels around the country, while ostensibly on official business. Money is further wasted on creating private motor-escort and body-guard services within the Police Force, for government officials, reminiscent of crass dictatorships around the world, which buzz around at high speed on public motorways, aggressively forcing ordinary motorists out of the way. Apparently there is no shortage of police thugs to staff these units, and the required behaviour to be a member of these units, is a natural fall-over from the days of apartheid. There are however many other instances of gross misspending which is well documented, so I won’t list them in detail.

Off course, the police themselves don’t seem to be in any hurry to change their behaviour. I think they quite like showing off the power they don’t really have, or deserve. In one unsavory incident not too long ago, a women who did not move out of the way quickly enough, from being in front of one of these thuggish government motorcades, was assaulted at a police station for her tardiness, while many members of the police watched. A student was recently roughed up by the goons from President Zuma’s speeding motorcade for flipping them the bird. Apparently the President does not take too kindly to his people exercising their freedom of expression.

Only just recently the police at Mowbray Police Station in Cape Town were reluctant to process ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, for driving under the influence of alcohol because he was a high-ranking ANC official. Aparently he was three times over the legal limit. And this is not the first incident of its kind; there were other other incidences where the police deliberately tampered with evidence, and falsified statements to aid governement officials who were unfortunate enough to be caught breaking the law. And breaking the law, seems to be the national passtime for government officials in South Africa, but they generally enjoy special treatment from the custodians of law and order. So you can see why the government is so intent on maintaining the apartheid-era status of the Police Force. The police can be a very convenient ally if you want to hang onto power at all costs.

Policing in South Africa stinks, so if you’re hoping that a service which inspects policing in the public interest is something that we desperately need, you first have to hope that the police start believing they serve the public, instead of the government.

The New Democracy

Only in South Africa, and a few other places which I wont mention right now, because I don’t live there, there exists a new democracy.

It is known as government of the unwashed masses, (paid for) by the sodding taxpayer, for the self-enrichment of the government. Most South Africans will recognise this form of government all too well. Its menacing stranglehold on the South African citizenry is now well established. Were he alive today, Abraham Lincoln would have been aghast at how wrong it can all become.

The new democracy was born out of noble intentions by the post-apartheid ANC-led government to create parity among all South Africans. It was hoped that at least some of the inequalities created by the previous regime would be addressed, if not eliminated entirely. It started well, but only a select few really benefitted from the parity-creation endeavours. Actually, a select few became super-rich, almost overnight.

Most people don’t know how or why it happened, but at about this time the government persuaded itself to join the super-rich clan. The mantra “what behoove a person who joined the liberation struggle, to remain poor,” came into eye-opening effect. And to this end, they have slowly worked themselves over the years into positions that would ensure that they would become part of the elite.

South Africans know this all too well. Not a week passes without a new scandal involving government impropriety with public funds becoming revealed. If it’s not extravagant spending on luxury vehicles, it’s purchase of expensive property and renovations,  overseas junkets, lavish parties, designer clothes, consultancy fees for stupid consultants who make stupid recommendations, and the latest fad; staying at super-luxury hotels, running up huge bills.

The latest addition to the treasury-looting hall of fame is none other than our Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa whose profligacy concerning hotel accommodation must be the envy of his government colleagues. It’s been reported that he racked up bills of  R235 000 at a hotel in Cape Town and a further R570 000 at a Durban hotel. And considering the two BMW X5’s he purchased at our expense (why two?) at a cost of around R1.3-million, lets hope he hasn’t got an eye on any triple-story mansions in Cape Town. Ostensibly, good taste is obligatory, if you’re splurging someone else’s money.

This spend-thrift is the same Minister who wants the law changed so that his under-paid, demoralised police officers can invade your home at their under-informed discretion, while he sips Martini’s at the Hilton Hotel. Let’s say he manages by some miracle to actually halve the crime rate in South Africa, I would be quite happy to let him continue to raid the treasury.

But, are you up to it, Minister?

“Shoot to kill” fiasco just gets worse

About two weeks ago I posted a blog, deploring the South African President’s support for amendments to the law which would give police officers the right to shoot to kill. In that time, an innocent young women has become the unfortunate victim of this insane policy proposal, while two other innocent citizens were injured in the same incident.

Earlier this week, police officers shot at a vehicle suspected of being hijacked, killing the young women and injuring two others who were all passengers in the car. And just to highlight the incompetence of the seven police officers involved, the driver of the car, an Air Force pilot who was the only one to exit when it stopped, was also the only one who was not shot. He later claimed that the police opened fire indiscriminately and without provocation.

Considering the unbelievably stupid shoot-to-kill remarks made by senior police chiefs, politicians and even the President, to (poorly trained) police officers, only two weeks earlier, this incident was bound to happen. Earlier this year, the Deputy Safety and Security Minister, Susan Shabangu was reported as saying: “You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility. Your responsibility is to serve and protect.” If the Deputy Minister does not understand the concept of serving and protecting, what hope is there for ordinary police officers, weaned on serving the former apartheid state against the majority of citizens.

The police officers who were involved in the shooting can claim that it was as a result of the mixed messages that they received from their bosses, but unfortunately (and rightly so) will have to face the full brunt of the law for their actions. As usual, the politicians will literally get away with murder.

But wait; it gets worse. Yesterday the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa not only claimed that the shoot-t0-kill stance was a fabrication by the press, he proclaimed that laws concerning the  police’s right to enter  private premises would be changed, to apparently, wait for it…. save lives. The Minister was quoted as saying:

There is a lot of woman and children abuse and we can’t seek permission from abusers to enter their houses.

If the police cannot competently identify a model of car (as in the shooting incident described earlier), how can we trust them to identify an abuser, and not barge into the wrong house shooting wildly at innocent people?

Are politicians that thick that they do not learn from the mistakes of their idiot peers? The draconian measures instituted by George Bush against the citizens of the USA to curb their constitutional freedoms, in response to the 9/11 disaster is still very much in the periphery of political and social discourse. Can our public representatives not see the danger of a repeat here, or are their objectives more sinister? Are South Africans, with a history of abuse of rights and freedoms, prepared to allow our politicians to drag us back into the past?

Personally, I need the assurance that my home will remain inviolate; free from the clutches of grubby politicians and the threat of invasion by incompetent police officers. Any attempts to diminish our freedoms must be resisted.

Army to help fight crime in South Africa

Just last week an army helicopter crashed into a dam with the tragic loss of three lives. I remember commenting in an on-line newspaper, in response to another reader, that we did not need more modern helicopters; we needed the army to be re-trained to be more useful in combating the tidal wave of crime sweeping through the country. So imagine my surprise, reading another on-line newspaper today with the headline, Army to help fight crime, says minister.

Sadly my initial feelings of joy at having my advice taken seriously (even if it was just a coincidence), turned to despair as I read disbelievingly through the rest of the article. If the following words of wisdom from Nathi Mthethwa, the newly appointed Minister of Police is anything to go by, we are in much deeper trouble than we realize:

“We are at war with criminals.” No shit, I always thought we were at war with innocent citizens!!! Incompetent politicians are, at any rate.

“You may want to release the police from things like cash-in-transit [heists] and concentrate where it matters most.” Huh! The military-precision-style of some of these heists has always left me wondering if the police or army were involved. Thanks Minister, for confirming that the police at least are involved, and that you now want the army to take over.

“If you look at international trends, the job of securing the country is done by the army …” Duh! Well beat me with a paddle for thinking that the job of securing the country was done by the Pensioners Tea Club.

“Improving crime intelligence was also key.” Damn, and I always thought that recruiting more intelligent cops, was the key to solving crime.

“If [criminals] know that you are very weak and can’t manage crime scenes, that encourages [them to] get away with murder.” No kidding, now why didn’t the cops think of this before. Who knows how many criminals they could have discouraged by now?

“Without improving and enhancing our capacity technology, we are nowhere.” Jeez, no wonder they pay you the big bucks!!! We would never have figured that out, without you.

Come on Minister, enough with the dreary rhetoric. let’s catch some criminals already…