Thursday, 12 November 2009

Police are victims too

Over the past few weeks we experienced a serious media assault on police for serial offences of shooting innocent people and bystanders. To my Knowledge they have been doing this all along. Ask Independent Complains Directorate (ICD) in KZN they will tell you about countless number of cases they have been dealing with over the years. We must admit that there are those police who have little regard for the law and lives. What has changed is the media attention to vilify Bheki Cele and Nathi Mthetwha on the use of deadly force against criminals. Just like in the case of Zuma where the media led everyone to believe that the judge said, “there was a generally corrupt relationship” between Zuma and Shaik, the media again has coined the “Shoot to kill” as if it is Cele and Mthethwa who said it like that.

Media set the agenda and what they say over and over again becomes the gospel as the “ generally corrupt relationship” tag line proved. In Jeppestown massacre when police were murdered like animal the media was concerned that the police killed those murderers after they had surrendered. This made more headlines than the death of men and women who died trying to protect you and me.Few weeks ago Captain Scheepers pointed a gun at a criminal and ordered him to drop the gun. Do you think that criminal cared to listen? Captain Scheeper was shot dead. What made headlines the following morning was the fact that Captain Scheepers was not wearing a bulletproof vest, how sick is that? They stopped short of saying he brought this to himself. Between 2007and 2008 staggering 213 police we gunned down by criminals and still counting for 2009, but this did not make headlines because it is not sensational.

I have heard Bheki Cele on numerous occasions saying police should kill when they are in Danger or the public is in danger. He questions Section 49 of police Act. I also do, what if a criminal is running away from the scene carrying an AK 47 do we then say he pose no thread. Let him go until we have a proof that the AK 47 in his hand is not for decorating the streets? Section 49 should be clear on that as to when to shoot, but when you are under threat you know and you should act. There will be isolated incidents of police who go out of hand and I think ICD is there for that.

We can’t allow trigger-happy police to act with impunity. We need a holistic approach where as civilians we can help the police to send criminal to where they belong. Stolen goods are a hot property in our townships; in a country where 23% of the population is unemployed most want to keep up with the Jones’ in a country where materialism is everything. Let’s stop glamorising criminals I am not sure how many time have I read Sowetan telling its reader about the shoes and the cars the Mashobane “King of Bling” girlfriend was driving. It is this kind of reporting that is disappointing; instead of discouraging criminality we boost it by giving it the positive image. Instead of the main focus being on a criminal who is running out of time as a free man we put a spin by looking at his assets (needless to say accumulated trough blood sometimes even of police men & women)

Even the ministers are not helping with their push for more bling. Our ministers choose to buy the most expensive cars which have been assembled elsewhere when we actually assemble good cars in our back yard, Ask Blade Nzimande and Trevor Manuel where their cars were assembled you will be shocked. Will it not be better if they were helping to create jobs by buying local other than fuel inflation further.

We need a solution blaming shoot to kill won’t solve problems we are approaching Christmas and every criminal want to have a good Christmas and that is very terrifying for ordinary people. I think police intelligence post apartheid is poor, it need to be beefed up to minimise the killing of innocent people, further education is a must for police as crime changes all the time, some of the police can not even take a proper statement from a victim and this lead to high failure rate of convictions. But ordinary people should come on board in most case we know criminals in our midst.

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