De­ploy SANDF to fight crime

An­ar­chy may re­sult if dras­tic mea­sures are not im­ple­mented

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches -

The Min­is­ter of Po­lice

I WRITE to you as an ex­tremely con­cerned cit­i­zen and I be­lieve my views are shared by ev­ery de­cent, law-abid­ing cit­i­zen, in­clud­ing you.

You have the un­en­vi­able task of heading a min­istry that is di­rectly in­volved in pro­tect­ing the ci­ti­zens of South Africa ev­ery day and in ev­ery cor­ner of our land.

There has been much crit­i­cism of the SAPS over the years, more of­ten than not well founded, but this let­ter is not about crit­i­cism. That crime is ram­pant can­not be over­stated. Many at some point have been vic­tims of this scourge or have had close fam­ily and friends who were hap­less vic­tims.

Many in­no­cent lives have been un­duly and cal­lously lost. Fam­i­lies have been dev­as­tated – some to the point of no re­turn.

What should be rou­tine and nor­mal lives of ev­ery cit­i­zen have be­come a night­mare with fear so per­va­sive. Even the might­i­est walls have been no match for the de­spi­ca­ble, fear­less crim­i­nals who have wreaked havoc and con­tinue to do so with im­punity.

This coun­try, once the jewel of the world, lan­guishes in a dis­con­so­late state of un­cer­tainty, not so much be­cause there is no will and spirit to suc­ceed, but be­cause of the lack of de­sire of our lead­er­ship to be bold in com­bat­ing crime ef­fec­tively.

I would be re­miss in my duty if I painted the en­tire law en­force­ment agen­cies as ne’er-do-any­things. There are many in­stances of a “good story” to tell – some­times faith-re­viv­ing sto­ries – where faith in the SAPS could not be ques­tioned.

But th­ese sto­ries pale into in­signif­i­cance when lives are lost at a rate of al­most 50 a day. Ev­ery time there is a cold-blooded mur­der, rape, a cash-in-tran­sit heist, house in­va­sion or hi­jack­ing, there is an out­cry for jus­tice and ret­ri­bu­tion.

Prom­ises are made to bring to book those who per­pe­trate th­ese heinous crimes. Then all sub­sides un­til the next atroc­ity is com­mit­ted.

You im­pressed us once with a gung-ho at­ti­tude to­wards crim­i­nals. The hu­man rights pun­dits and the le­gal minds rushed to warn you about your bel­liger­ence, pon­tif­i­cat­ing at length on the un­con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of your ut­ter­ances.

They may have had merit to an ex­tent, but the time has come when we, as a coun­try, need to bal­ance the ur­gency of com­bat­ing crime against the rights of those crim­i­nals who snuff out in­no­cent lives at will and with­out mercy.

The re­cent mur­der of nine-year-old Sa­dia Sukhraj in Dur­ban as a re­sult of a botched hi­jack­ing re­sounds omi­nously, as noted by the protests of a fairly docile com­mu­nity who are slowly but surely ris­ing in anger.

It’s ridicu­lous to try to quell le­git­i­mate protests when the greater prob­lem is what ac­tu­ally led to the protests in the first place.

Such protests will rise as crime does not abate – sadly, with more far-reach­ing con­se­quences and dev­as­ta­tion.

Pre­vi­ously docile com­mu­ni­ties are be­gin­ning to vent and while I dis­ap­prove of vig­i­lan­tism, this could soon be­come com­mon. Sir, the daunt­ing task that awaits you is com­pounded by a dis­sat­is­fied cit­i­zenry, but I dare say this dis­sat­is­fac­tion is go­ing to be­come a po­tent cat­a­lyst for an­ar­chi­cal be­hav­iour should dras­tic mea­sures not be im­ple­mented with haste.

While you have dis­carded the use of our De­fence Force in com­bat­ing crime, I urge you to re­con­sider. It would be a brave act for you as po­lice min­is­ter, in the in­ter­est of all our safety, to en­gage the De­fence Force in pa­trolling our streets. It may well be a trump card of some hero­ism and I doubt any­one would not wel­come the move.

It would add to de­ter­rence, driv­ing crim­i­nals into their caves but, more im­por­tantly, help save the lives of peo­ple who prob­a­bly un­wit­tingly have death war­rants signed on them by the ver­min we seek to erad­i­cate.

Your pres­sure on cen­tral gov­ern­ment to in­crease fund­ing and thus re­sources would help.

Do not be afraid of your col­leagues – re­mem­ber that the peo­ple will back

PIC­TURE: BONGANI SHILULBANE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

AC­TION NEEDED: While Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele, wear­ing the hat, has dis­carded the use of the De­fence Force to fight crime, it would be a brave act in the in­ter­est of safety, says the writer. Such a step would be a trump card of some hero­ism and it is...

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