Blurring blue line
ONE of the issues the advent of democracy in this country was expected to improve is the relationship between citizens and the police.
The apartheid era police force was hated for upholding laws that discriminated against the country's majority.
Even more hated were black police officers who were seen to be upholding the evil system against their own people.
After 1994 one of the efforts made by the democratically elected government was to improve the relationship between the police and the broader community.
The force was even renamed South African Police Service. So, instead of bullying the black majority on behalf of their apartheid masters - the police were now expected to "serve" the nation.
The establishment of community policing forums - wherein the police work in tandem with communities - was another major step towards building trust between the police and the communities they are expected to serve.
Unfortunately, there has been incidents that has led to the public continuing to view the police with suspicion. These include police brutality, the continuing deaths of prisoners in custody, and even more disheartening are reports about the police's alleged involvement in criminal activities.
Currently several Durban-based police officers are facing charges, including sexually assaulting suspects and allegedly planting drugs in people's homes to solicit bribes.
According to the indictment the police officers had become a law unto themselves waging a rein of terror against communities and families of those suspected of committing crime. This lawlessness among the police officers has unfortunately, in some instances, led to the loss of innocent lives caught in the crossfire.
Yesterday Sowetan ran stories about police officers allegedly involved in criminal activities. In one of the stories Gauteng police are said to be investigating one of their own suspected of either assisting or being part of the gang suspected of being responsible for the recent spate of hijackings by individuals who use police-issue blue lights to stop motorists and rob them. Six men have been arrested in connection with the hijackings.
Meanwhile, two Limpopo officers - one linked to the elite police investigation unit, the Hawks - have been fingered for alleged criminal activities.
We commend the police for bringing these alleged miscreants to book. We are, however, concerned about how individuals with such low moral probity end up in the police service.