Police are obsessed with killing

MILITARY STYLE; Bheki Cele. Pic. Tyrone Arthur. 29/09/2009. © BD.
MILITARY STYLE; Bheki Cele. Pic. Tyrone Arthur. 29/09/2009. © BD.

FINALLY the cat is out of the bag. I had been wondering why the government decided to dispense with the concept of a ministry of safety and security and replace it with that of the police.

FINALLY the cat is out of the bag. I had been wondering why the government decided to dispense with the concept of a ministry of safety and security and replace it with that of the police.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has hinted that we are back to a military style police agency. I use "agency" because one is uncertain whether once they start using the same language as soldiers they will still regard themselves as a "service", force or something else.

It makes sense that the police would want to style themselves as soldiers. They have become obsessed with shooting to kill.

Listening to soon-to-be General Cele, you would swear that South Africa's anti-crime strategy consists of one sentence: shoot the criminals.

I had hoped to hear what Cele intended doing with the drug pushers whose crimes go far beyond prohibited substances.

The numbers of the lives they have been able to destroy makes them guilty of genocide.

I wonder whether Cele also wants this species to be shot or if he has better ideas than befriending a drug dealer as his predecessor did.

I am waiting to hear what Cele has in mind about the scourge of men who rape their partners and daughters. I accept that it is near impossible to prevent such crimes because they happen behind closed doors, but surely the country's top cop should have some ideas of piercing through the wall that makes some believe themselves to be beyond the reach of the law, while others remain prisoners in their own homes.

All that I have heard from Cele and his boss, President Jacob Zuma, makes me wonder how it is that the one government that is supposed to be the most Left-leaning we have had could deal with crime in such an ultra-Rightwing fashion.

They could make Louis le Grange turn green with envy in his grave.

I agree that we should not "kiss crime". I also agree that police officers should not go into a gunfight carrying a whip if they hope to come out of it victorious and, more importantly, alive.

But crime in our country is much more than that.

Unfortunately, the Leftists in the ruling alliance have become so obsessed with vilifying Trevor Manuel at any given opportunity that they have hardly made time to place arguments that remind the Celes in our country that crime is a direct consequence of our unequalsociety that worships materialism.

They would have pointed out to Cele that until something is done about giving all our children access to meaningful education to increase their life chances; if street lights worked and grass was cut where it is supposed to be; government officials did not steal money meant for school children's feeding schemes; if the public broadcaster dedicated more time to shows that inspire our kids to believe that there is more to life than jiving better than their classmates, we might stand a better chance of winning the war against crime.

One thing that amazes me about the ANC leadership is its tendency to ignore the lessons of its own history.

Tough talk by any number of police generals did not stop it from pursuing what it believed to be a way out of an untenable situation.

What makes Cele think the threat of shooting men who believe they have nothing to lose but everything to gain will stop them from attempting another cash heist?

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