Scales of justice

One of the biggest problems we face in South Africa is the scourge of petty civil servants who get too big for their boots and expect us, their employers, to bow down before them.

One of the biggest problems we face in South Africa is the scourge of petty civil servants who get too big for their boots and expect us, their employers, to bow down before them.

Nowhere was this syndrome more apparent than in the Johannesburg magistrate's court last week.

Twelve policemen appeared for abusing prostitutes they had arrested by beating them and trying to extort bribes. But a female inspector in full uniform cleared the court of journalists before her colleagues appeared.

Well, ma'am, you broke the law and now you must pay.

In South Africa we work under the principle that justice must be seen to be done. That's why journalists have the right to witness court proceedings. And everyone, including police officers who are alleged to have betrayed their oath, is considered equal before the law.

No officer has the right to hide behind her uniform to ensure that colleagues evade public scrutiny.

The police officer who cleared the court of journalists is every bit as guilty of abusing her authority and her uniform as her colleagues who allegedly beat up the prostitutes.

Citizens can't be expected to respect police who hide behind their uniforms to act as bullies - and we demand that this bumptious buffoon be held to account.

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