No to a gangster state
Burglary at homes, businesses and offices is one of the crimes that South Africans fear most. In the recent past, we have read about, or watched on TV, families left traumatised after the commission of such acts – mostly because criminals were so brutal in carrying out their misdeeds.
The annual crime statistics, released in September, put the number of home burglaries at 250 606, while for businesses the figure was 75 008.
But the recent break-ins and theft at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand, and the break-in at the home of former social development director-general Zane Dangor are worrying signs for the country. One of the two cars involved in the crime at Dangor’s home may have been used to try to gain entry into the home of SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) boss Thokozani Magwaza.
All the incidents happened after the Constitutional Court ruled on the social grants payment crisis, which threw the continued payment of grants to more than 17 million beneficiaries into doubt.
The police are investigating these cases. Whether they were committed for purely criminal reasons or more nefarious motives is, as yet, unknown. Time will reveal the reasons – if we ever get to the bottom of the cases.
As a nation, we must not allow even the perception that we are descending into a gangster state, where underhand tactics are brazenly applied to achieve what cannot be accomplished through legal means. In this state, political assaults assume the guise of break-ins, hijackings and even murders.
In gangster states, mafias and syndicates exist alongside governing elites with whom they share the same greedy interests. Their common enemy is the rule of law and the institutions that uphold it. Russia, under President Vladimir Putin – a great friend of some of our leaders – is a classic example of a gangster state.
South Africans who view the incidents at the Chief Justice’s office and the homes of Dangor and Magwaza as the start of a slide into a gangster state are justified. All the political parties were correct in saying that whatever the motive, the break-in at the Chief Justice’s office struck at the heart of our constitutional democracy. So did the other incidents.
If there are attempts to mimic Putin’s gangster state even in the slightest way, South Africans must be alert to them and nip them in the bud.