Trampling on dignity

WE assume that the security force members who raided the Nancefield hostel after the shooting of the Rea Vaya bus near the area must have acted on intelligence and in the best interest of the security of all of us.

WE assume that the security force members who raided the Nancefield hostel after the shooting of the Rea Vaya bus near the area must have acted on intelligence and in the best interest of the security of all of us.

But to have grown men photographed wearing nothing but their underwear was a throwback to apartheid days. It smacked of the dreaded Blackjacks storming into homes demanding to see whose names appeared on the "permit".

Some of the pictures had bylines, suggesting that the police had taken female photographers with when raiding these men.

We know that many residents of this hostel are likely to be migrant labourers or job seekers from rural KwaZulu-Natal, where men and female roles are clearly identified and regimented.

We expect that gender rights activists could take umbrage at what they might incorrectly read to mean that women are not allowed to do their jobs if this might upset men.

Fact is, South Africa has many different cultural communities and we need to respect their ways even if we give ourselves the paternalistic right to decide which of these are sensible.

In any event, we will never condone a situation in which male photographers join the police to take pictures of women in their underwear, especially when those people merely happen to live in a hostel and are not necessarily suspects or under arrest.

Human dignity and the fight against crime are not mutually exclusive concepts. We will never trade one for the other.

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