Friday, May 23, 2008

Trust in police eroding

Society runs on trust.

We trust each other to follow the norms and standards society expects of us. We write laws that, if transgressed will incur punishment.

We trust that people employed to perform tasks will do them properly. We trust that the money in our wallets is worth the value that the paper says it is worth. We trust banks to keep our money safe.

We trust the constitution that says everyone is equal under the law. We trust that the people entrusted to uphold the law will do so.

Trust is the foundation of society. When trust is lost, society falls.

The story of our defunct police is a case in point.

Our police can no longer be trusted. They have already lost our respect with their selective and ham-fisted application of the law.

Already, people are fearful of stopping their car when a car with a “blue light” tells them to pull over. There have been countless incidents when people have pulled over, only to be hijacked moments later. The cars even have police number plates!

Now, fake policemen are setting up fake roadblocks.

If you went through a roadblock and was told to stop by a man in uniform, would you stop? I know I probably would. But, recent incidents are telling me otherwise.

The problem is: how do you prevent corrupt cops from selling their gear?

How do you monitor uniforms? It is surely very difficult. But, we have to do something soon.

Yesterday, according to the Pretoria News a Tshwane metro policeman was arrested for giving criminals police uniforms, blue lights and a service pistol for use in armed robberies and hijackings.

At around 11am yesterday, five criminals dressed in Metro Police uniforms staged a roadblock in Pretoria. They then stopped and hijacked a bakkie loaded with cellphones.

After offloading their loot at another location, two of the suspects then decided to escort the bakkie back to the site of the hijacking, using a white Golf, which had government registration plates, and flashing blue lights. They were spotted by police and a chase ensued.

The suspects abandoned the Golf, but were later arrested.

According to Captain Dumisani Ndlazi, the suspects tried to bribe the cops with R5 000, saying they could phone someone to bring the money. Sensing they could arrest more suspects, the police "agreed".

The robbers then told the police that a friend of theirs had told them where he had left the money and that they could go and fetch it. According to Ndlazi, the R5 000 was found tied to a tree.

Meanwhile, police who had kept watch from the bush saw the driver of a metro police car remove the blue lights from the Golf. They came out from hiding and arrested the driver.

"It later turned out that the metro policeman was part of the gang and was the one who had given them the blue lights and the police uniforms," Ndlazi said.

It is also suspected that the pistol which had been used in the hijacking was actually the metro cop's service pistol, and that he had taken the R5 000 to the tree.

According to Ndlazi, the cop told the police that his pistol was at his home - but when they went there and could not find it, he confessed that he had given it to one of the robbers to use in the hijacking.

I commend the police for their investigation. At least one corrupt cop will pay for his sins.

However, there are plenty more like him.

Until the police can monitor and investigate the movement of police uniforms and equipment, I suggest you all remain extremely vigilant when confronted by a roadblock or a flashing blue light.

Take note of all their cars, licence plates, uniforms, and their behaviour. If you feel threatened or in danger, then just drive on, but phone the nearest police station to make them aware of the situation and that you are not trying to evade arrest.

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