Clem Sunter

'Dear Mr Cele...'

2009-08-06 10:25

Dear Mr Cele,

I wish to place on record my full support for you in your new job. Being top cop is the most important job in South Africa because crime defines our lives in this beautiful country.

For those of us who are rich enough to afford it, we build high walls around our houses, put electric fences on top, have 24-hour security in the streets outside as well as patrolling vehicles, install panic alarms inside our houses and check our rear-view mirrors before driving into the gate in case a would-be hijacker is following us.

We live in a permanent state of fear. When a loved one does not answer the cellphone when he or she should, we immediately play the worst-case scenario that a violent crime has been committed. Hardly a day goes by without some atrocious act of violence being reported in the newspaper or on the radio station. Many of our children have left the country because they want the freedom that goes with living in a relatively crime-free society.

But it's not just us who are privileged enough to protect ourselves and take evasive action. I am thinking too of all those decent, hardworking fellow citizens who are not so fortunate and who merely want to give their children better opportunities in life than they ever had as parents. Their lives are also marred by crime. They are just as entitled to a normal life where peace of mind replaces fear.

I just want to share the wisdom of two prominent people with whom I had the pleasure of sharing the platform in recent years. The first is Rabbi Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa. We were both talking at a general meeting of the Jewish community held in Johannesburg the other night. He said that if violent crime could be reduced significantly in South Africa, everything else will automatically improve. I totally agree with him. The change of heart among ordinary people would be enormous. They would feel released and want to make a positive contribution to society.

The second person is Rudy Giuliani who was visiting South Africa to promote his book Leadership. I opened and closed his session at Gallagher Estates and had lunch with him afterwards. I asked him what his biggest contribution to New York was as mayor besides his role after 9/11. He said without doubt his achievement of reducing crime in New York to levels last seen in the late 1940s.

He said one of the principal reasons was the introduction of the CompStat real-time police intelligence computer system, the brainchild of William Bratton. He used it to measure the relative performance of different police precincts in combating crime. He would reward the chiefs who were doing well and fire the chiefs who had done badly. I believe that 80% of the performance of any police station in South Africa is attributable to the quality of its leader.

So best of luck and may the fox be with you.

Kind Regards,
Clem Sunter

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