SA police fail test while world looks

Image: STOCK IMAGE

The screams of delight by a lively crowd enjoying an international musical experience at the FNB Stadium on Sunday and the shrieks of horror by largely young female revellers after the show underscore the frustrating contrasts about SA today.

That the Global Citizen Festival attracted international stars at the top of their game, and many other dignitaries in the arts, business and social sectors, vouched for the fact that SA is alive with possibilities.

Our country remains high in the scale of international interest despite our problems. In short, we are a very attractive country that millions of people from other countries want to either visit or live in permanently.

However, all the same, we are a dangerous country in which your life can be snuffed out just for a cellphone or a few bucks in your pocket. This is the reality revellers after the show came face to face with in the dark of a Johannesburg night. Everybody living in this city, including the people who were mugged by criminals, know that you cannot afford to be stranded in this city at night - and even during the day in certain parts.

Also in the know about this fact are the SA Police Service, who should have been outside the stadium in great numbers.

Granted, the safety of concert-goers at the venue was the prerogative of stadium management and organisers. But the public spaces beyond the stadium were supposed to be the police's responsibility to safeguard. In essence, SAPS failed a test of trustworthy when the expectation was high that they prove their worth.

Some cynics question why police were expected to acquit themselves well just because international stars were here? The truth is that SAPS is expected to earn the public's trust all the time, no matter the occasion or day of the week.

Given the magnitude of the event at FNB, one would have expected the SAPS to have also wanted to rise to the occasion so that all the good things being said about the festival today and beyond would include them as well. What a lost opportunity.

The question we now remain with is how long must we live in fear of crime after fighting so hard to end the fear apartheid had cast on us?

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