Be wary of playing to the gallery
There is a growing sense of anger and frustration over the failure of the criminal justice system to act against the architects of state capture and others whose corrupt behaviour almost collapsed the state.
Citizens who had hoped that President Cyril Ramaphosa's New Dawn and his Thuma Mina campaign would result in prosecutions, are becoming despondent as those accused of serious crimes continue to enjoy comfortable lifestyles, often at taxpayers' expense.
The public's impatience is understandable given the severity of the crimes that were committed over the past decade or so. However, this is putting a lot of pressure on the police, prosecutors and other components of the state.
They need to catch a big fish, and need to do so soon. Otherwise they risk losing the public's confidence in them. But in doing so they must be cautious not to play to the gallery at the expense of doing proper investigative and prosecution work.
For, the fight against corruption can only be won through thorough processes and not gimmicks.
While we recognise the value of police and the Hawks being seen conducting raids on the homes of high-profile suspects, this has downsides - especially if such high-profile raids and arrests do not ultimately result in successful convictions.
One of those downsides is that they create public sympathy for the suspects, especially if they happen to be politicians. The suspects then often use the raids to paint themselves as victims of politically motivated campaigns.
Yesterday's raids on the homes of former eThekwini mayor Zanele Gumede and her associates, for instance, have the potential to turn into a political hot potato if they were not supported by thorough investigations.
Already, her supporters are viewing the raids as abuse of state power by her political opponents in government who hoped that her "humiliation" would result in ANC members in the city not re-electing her for the powerful post of party chairwoman in the region.
While we do not believe that there would have been any considerations of the internal ANC dynamics by the Hawks when pouncing on her properties, the final proof of the usefulness of their actions will be in the court.
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