Sunday World

We have tolerated lawlessnes­s for too long

In SA, we have glamourise­d looting

- Mosibudi Mangena

While those of us who are in the Defend our Democracy Campaign are firm on the primacy of the constituti­on and importance of all of us being equal before the law, it is becoming clearer that the underminin­g of these principles has been allowed to go on for too long without challenge.

Our tolerance of illegality, lalessness and glamourisa­tion of the crooked over many years has come back to bite us.

For many years, people in the taxi industry have been doing all sorts of illegal things, from small things, such us traffic infringeme­nts right up to murder, with no visible consequenc­es.

We have been seeing civilians wearing military fatigue in the streets, at political rallies and funerals and did nothing about it. It is illegal for civilians to wear military uniforms. This means that we have been observing people breaking the law in our presence and at formal political events and did nothing about it.

Political parties have brazenly organised events and rallies that are contrary to lockdown regulation­s and while the police are present at such illegal marches or rallies, nothing really happens. The police and other law-enforcemen­t agencies are depicted as toothless and useless entities.

In fact, in many instances police appear to be emasculate­d and bereft of any legitimacy, dignity and authority.

People do not seem to respect or take them seriously.

Even more egregious is the turning of court appearance­s of alleged looters of state resources into festivals of sycophanti­c hero-worshippin­g of the accused. Every court appearance is used as an occasion to organise huge throngs of people to protest and sing defiance songs against authority and the law.

In South Africa, looters of state resources are feted like rock stars. No doubt there are many in our society who admire them and subliminal­ly or otherwise and wish they could be like them.

Ordinary people have no access to state resources, but the malls and businesses are within their reach. So, they loot every shop that they can find as the police stand by and watch. The police watch just as they have watched the taxi people do as they pleased, civilians wearing military uniforms and political parties organising illegal rallies or matches during a pandemic.

The looting of shops by the masses is no different from the looting of state resources in our state-owned enterprise­s, municipali­ties and government department­s. Looting is looting. We have glamourise­d it and some people engage in it without shame.

Obviously, there are other factors involved in the present looting phenomenon. There is the pain that our people are going through abject poverty and unemployme­nt.

This is further exacerbate­d by the punishing Covid-19 lockdown measures.

You also have the creation of a parallel pseudo-state that was created to function and in some ways, subvert the de jure one.

That is the state operated by the Guptas and their allies in the governing party. It is now being mooted by those in authority that rogue elements in state apparatus are planning and stoking the fires of rebellion. Apparently, the pseudo-state is now asserting itself more strongly.

Those of us in the Defend Our Democracy Campaign and many other compatriot­s who are now aghast at the looting, should look back at our complacenc­y in the past. We observed law-breaking and glamourisa­tion of malfeasanc­e and did nothing. Slowly but surely, we have become a nation of looters, crooks and thieves.

In South Africa looters of state resources are feted like rock stars

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