Justice only happens in the movies

2008-02-06 00:00

I write this article on behalf of all the women and children who have been raped or abused and those who have lost loved ones due to the violence and crime in this country. I feel their pain. The saddest part of most of these stories is that the law enforcers just do not care.

A few weeks back a very close friend of mine was shot during a robbery at a local clinic. The hooligans were after some money that was in the boot of her car so they shot her, took the car, damaged it and dumped it somewhere. The case was reported to the police and those who were present were questioned. And that is all that was done.

A colleague of mine was beaten up by an ex-boyfriend a month ago and I advised her to report the incident to the police, which she immediately did. Sure, the police went over to her house to question her and get a statement. Again, that was the end of it.

These are just two examples of very many stories and the question is: what exactly is the law doing? Nothing! People get killed all the time, children are raped on a daily basis, and don’t even get me started on the hijackings, the robberies and the house break-ins, and I ask again, what is the law doing about this? Nothing.

From my understanding, correct me if I am wrong, the law is put in place to protect the people of the country, to ensure that justice is served and to help minimise the rate of crime. If you have been a victim of a crime, it makes sense that you report it to the police in the hope that they will deal with the matter appropriately and that the culprit will be punished. Unfortunately, this only happens in movies now. The police in the real world take statements and shove the matter, along with the file, to the back of the cabinet and forget about it, in the hope that you will do the same.

When I visited my friend at her house, she told me that she hasn’t heard anything from the police since the day of the incident, and that was January 4. There has not even been a phone call to notify her that they are still working on the case or just to let her know that they haven’t found any leads. Nothing.

My colleague who was beaten up by her ex-boyfriend tried phoning the police station numerous times over the Christmas period to get feedback on her case, and she either had to retell her story or was told to try again after the excitement of the festive season had died down. Her case was reported a few days before Christmas.

It is true that our country is one of the leaders as far as the rate of crime is concerned but I also think that if everyone did their work, things wouldn’t be deteriorating the way they are. We don’t expect the police to unravel every single case that is reported, but we do expect them at least to try and to let us know if they succeed or fail. We report crimes so that the criminals will get caught and further similar cases will be prevented, and we do understand that it’s not always easy to catch these thugs. All we ask is that we are updated every now and again, which will show us we have not been forgotten over cups of coffee and dense conversation.

A rather sad incident happened one day while I was walking up towards Market Square. A woman was mugged in broad daylight and two policemen who were walking up the same street saw everything but they continued walking as if nothing had happened. One mumbled something that sounded like “it’s after four o’clock and we have clocked off”! I, in fact, everyone was disgusted by their behaviour.

When it comes to saving a life there are no clocking-in times. If you are in a position where you can prevent a crime of any kind and you are equipped to do so, then for God’s sake do the right thing. Or did I wrongly assume everyone would be familiar with that?

I’m a woman of 22 and I have lived my whole life in this country so I have seen a little bit of this and yes, a little bit of that, and I must admit, I think twice before I shout “Proudly South African”. The crime in this country is half the reason why people want to move overseas. It’s not because there is too much of it but because there is not enough being done about it.

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