Recently, a video has gone viral worldwide of a South African police officer driving recklessly in what is believed to be an inebriated state with his gun on his lap. Shocked? You should be, these are the men and women that are responsible for keeping you safe. They are responsible for protecting you and those you love and they are there to enforce the laws of the land put in place to enable you to live the safest possible life. For many South Africans, the sad reality is that these men and women appointed as the law enforcers of the country are merely criminals in uniform who they would be safer without. Most of them are criminal or could not be bothered, as seen in this video showing a mob beating where the police decided it was easier to stand by and watch instead.
This evening my husband went to fetch my daughter from the One Direction concert. He was there a little earlier than intended and of course was being given seven kinds of hell for wanting to park where he was not supposed to because he was there early. Eventually he found a darkened spot under a lamp post where he thought it safest to hide and wait, out of the sight of the security guards but sitting targets for the wonderful police force. The officer walked up to my husband’s window and without beating around the bush asked straight out ‘How much is this parking worth to you?’. Not wanting to go through the hassle of driving around any further, he counted out his R13 in change and told the policeman that was all he had, the officer took the change and walked onto the next row of 10 or so cars where the same scenario ensued window to window. My husband was an enabler, but the truth is that he is not alone – The country has become a nation of enablers. The sad reality is that not metres from my husband’s vehicle were a group of girls, someone’s daughter’s, swigging from a brown bag and spread eagle curb side looking no older than 10 or 12 and the policeman was more concerned about making his nightly bribe than assisting these girls.
Living in South Africa, everyone knows someone that has been the victim of police intimidation. I am not saying that all police men or women are bad but to be honest, for every 1 legitimate police officer there are 20 criminals in government paid for vehicles with disco lights. The stories are shocking, from something small (what we would consider small anyway) like being pulled over and being breathalized by force even though you haven’t had a drink – this has happened to my husband – and then being asked for a bribe to make it ‘go away’ to being thrown in the back of a police vehicle and taken on a joyride around the country being left road side battered and bruised. We teach our children in schools that men and women in uniform are to be trusted, they are there to help you and 10111 is the number to dial when you are in trouble but then the next day we read an article in the paper about a car of policemen raping a lone women in her own driveway after a night out.
I get asked fairly often about South Africa and if the horror stories they hear overseas are true – While I do not want to dog the country, I also cannot lie or I would still be there wouldn’t I? The statistics are real and the truth sucks – in 2013 a study revealed that 83% of South African police officers were corrupt with South Africa coming in within the top 36 countries for the most corrupt law enforcement. Households are choosing armed response security companies over the South African police force for home protection – There is something wrong with that picture! I have travelled all over the world and in no other country I have been to, do the police walk around so entitled, demanding respect and bribe money instead of being in the field for the love of protection. Ask many kids in SA what they would want to be when they grow up, innocently many will turn around and say police officer – Truth is, they have the right idea. They get paid to do nothing, get fancy paid-for cars and earn money on the side for bribery. The true heroes are the police reservists who do that job voluntarily, for the love of justice, not because they are expecting a pay day. Social media has made it difficult to trust the SAPS when videos and stories are being thrown out there of abuse, corruption, intimidation and bribery and the sad truth is that this 84% are making the good cops look bad.
It is not a subject that should be pussy footed around, as a nation it is imperative that this corruption is no longer enabled – Paying a bribe to a metro cop who pulls you over for speeding means you are evading the law and making it easy for them to be criminal. Paying R13 for a parking space is bad form (Sorry babe). Letting police officers standby while criminal activity is underway is just not acceptable. After all, these are the men and women you are raising the younger generation to look up to… To the men and women who do the job of police officer for true and honest reasons, I salute you and I am sorry that your name is soiled because of those around you. Continue to do what you do so that the boys and girls who look up to law enforcement turn out to be like you rather than the police in these above mentioned videos.