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.

A police lineup in South Africa. I kid you not!

How many countries in the world do you know of that could potentially pack a police lineup with policemen only? And not because it’s a ruse to uncover a false witness!

Not many, I’ll wager. But how many countries do you know of where the government proudly packs the police service with people of known ill-repute and deviant, often criminal disposition?

Introducing the proudly South African Police Service…or Force or whatever weasel word the government spin-doctors will dream up:

Zapiro, M

Now, if you think that was shameless, consider also that South Africa’s National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, whose own character is rather dubious to put it mildly, has been reported recently to have stated publicly that it’s just dandy to have criminal elements in the Police Services. And no, not because it’s shrewd to set a criminal to catch a criminal…no, no, no. Cele thinks it’s perfectly all right because Jesus had a criminal among his disciples. And the mythical Garden of Eden had two people who committed a crime.

Yes, if it’s alright for a mythical religious ideology to have criminals, then why shouldn’t the SAPS have them too!

Well folks, that’s the kind of childish, backwards logic and just plain criminality we are dealing with in South Africa.