I have the utmost respect for both the spirit of common law policing, and those within the police who try their best to uphold that spirit. Always will. This is not an idea irreconcilable with all libertarian thought. Look at minarchism, for example. What I don’t believe is that the police are a monolithic entity worthy of respect. Every case must be studied for its individual merits. Having been in the police, I’m acutely aware of the difference in quality of people and ideas within it. The idea of common law policing is still beautiful. Support it. There are still beautiful souls trying their best within the police. Support them in that endeavour. But always ask questions. – B. Allen
Covid-19, Corona or the China Virus. Whatever we call it, there is no doubt the recent pandemic (and our response) is a life-changing event. I recall no other occurence in recent history that has had such far-reaching influence in such a short time. Sure, we’ve had two A-Bombs, D-Day, and 9/11. But those didn’t lockdown entire countries across continents. We will remember this for decades. And we will tell our grandkids in 50 years’ time.
One striking thing after the president proclaimed the lockdown, was the massive amount of uncertainty that followed. What can or can’t we do? Can we walk our dogs? Is it legal for me to jog? May I leave the house to buy food? Is my employer an essential service?
Small business owners weren’t only uncertain, they were also afraid. During a personal discussion with a large farmstall owner, he explained to me that the lockdown might cripple him. He employs 26 staff and has invested millions in stock, and he needs to pay for his financing. Additionally, a massive percentage of South Africans live hand-to-mouth. And they live in genuine fear. But not in fear of Covid – in fear of hunger.
Enter the SAPS and SANDF. The two organisations tasked with keeping people safe. Or so we thought. Numerous accounts of police and army brutality soon hit social media. The police shot a man in his yard (in front of his kids), SAPS fired rubber bullets at a journalist, and a viral video showed a soldier shooting a dog. There were so many incidents that opposition parties started hotlines to assist victims.
Now let me be clear – there are many good cops and soldiers. This article is not about them. This is about the failure of our leadership. And the bunch of bullies behaving like thugs, and who are failing South Africa when we need them most.
In this uncertain time the function of SAPS and SANDF should be to lead, and to provide a bastion of stability. They should rise above the chaos and be the compassionate voice of reason to the people they protect. Sadly they instead chose the “skop-en-donner” approach. This seems to be the default setting for some SANDF and SAPS jackbooted thugs. This is not Apartheid SA where violence was the only tool. If somebody breaks the law, follow the process and arrest them and escalate as needed.
But in what world is it acceptable to just walk up to a citizen and slap them around out of nowhere? We will see how you like it when one of your colleagues slaps your dad around when he is going to the pharmacy. Or your mom on her way to the buy bread and milk. And before you tell me these incidents can’t happen – they did. They still do – with shocking regularity. Maybe it’s acceptable as long as it just affects certain demographics? Is that it?
This I not the first time the SANDF and SAPS have made the news for criminal behaviour. According to defenceWeb, SANDF soldiers committed nine cases of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) on peacekeeping missions in 2017, and committed another four in 2018. In the 2015/16 financial year civil claims against SAPS escalated to R14,6bn, of which R290m was paid out. The courts reduced or threw out another R7,3bn worth of claims. What grates my carrot even more, is how many SAPS and SANDF members condone this behaviour by playing the “you-were-not-there” card.
Well, sorry chum: nobody forced you to become a police officer or a soldier. The SAPS and SANDF serve at the pleasure of the people. It’s even in the name. South African Police Service. The very people they are looking after pay the taxes that in turn pay their salaries. So, you get bliksemed and they compensate you with your own money. And then the perpetrators invoke the Nuremberg Defence.
It’s time the criminal element in these organisations are taken to task. Not from their annual budget (taxpayers’ money), but from the personal pockets of the offenders and their minister.
I for one am gatvol of the comlete disregard of the law by the very people sworn to uphold it. If it’s not the FCA of 2000 that they arbitrarily apply, it’s the lockdown regulations. We deserve better. We are not a communist Stasi-run state. In spite of which the Minster of Police seems to think. You serve at the pleasure of the citizens of the Republic.
Written by Rouen Heiberg.
Rouen is a rough-and-tumble kind of fellow from the dank depths of the Garden Route. He haunts the lands around George, and does his part in running a shooting club down there. He does unarmed combatives, firearms training, and causes trouble on the Internet. Rouen also hates the lockdown.