Firstly, and apropos of absolutely nothing that follows, let me take the liberty of pointing out that when one “declares war” it is expected that one involves oneself shortly thereafter in the business of actually going to war. A simple example might be that when a hypothetical government declares war vociferously and repeatedly on corruption, the citizens of that great nation might reasonably anticipate something more than a collective sitting about and scratching of asses. Food for thought.
While we deal with matters of comprehensive inactivity, I must point out that some of South Africa’s keenest observers of crime (and I mean observer in the strict sense of watching and in no way interacting with what unfolds before you) are the South African Police Service.
Now, I am not suggesting that all police personnel are useless, but I can advise that as a general sentiment, the taxpayer is getting substantially short-changed.
The few police members that are applying themselves surely deserve to be earning substantially more than they are, but the vast majority of police members are being paid to eat fastfood voraciously at police counters across the country and commission affidavits for the endless crimes committed in South Africa.
Either my expectations are too high, or alternatively the police training course needs comprehensive revision. Commissioning affidavits is only tangentially related to fighting crime and should be reserved only for candidates who are justifiably not suited to more physical demands, due to disability. And by disability, I do not refer to the mental retardation that accompanies the able-bodied SAPS members using parking bays reserved for the disabled.
This morning, while enjoying an essential cup of coffee in preparation for a spot of work, I observed one of our dogs intently prospecting over a number of square metres of refreshing green lawn. Fascinated by his fastidious attention to detail, I marvelled at his concentration until this was abruptly interrupted when he parked his morning business. I must confess to being puzzled by the precise qualifying criteria for an appropriate area of grass, for our lawn looks much the same to me at every point, but there is clearly far more to the matter.
Let me be clear: I mention our dog’s application to the task at hand not as any invitation for the local constabulary to enjoy their ablutions in our garden. It just seems to me that the scant attention that the SAPS gives to fighting crime almost seems to require a definitive decision to be an abysmal failure because even my dog will try his very best when confronting one of his daily tasks.
The police are sadly useless in a way that goes beyond the tragedy of blowing away the strikers of Marikana. Goodness knows, if I was confronted with approaching hordes armed with pangas, I would be pulling the trigger quicker than you can say Nathi Mthetwa, but I am not a “trained” police officer.
Before everybody jumps about pointing out that it is easy to criticise, hold the phone, close the chemist, stop the bus… because I have come armed with the solution. Bounty hunters!
Could South Africa do with bounty hunters? Well, to start with, such a system would create employment for more deserving members of society and consequently catch criminals.
I must just pre-warn all statisticians that I’m about to embark on some spraying about of numbers with reckless abandon, so prepare a nice cup of green tea to calm the nerves. I welcome more accurate numbers from anybody that can provide them, but I don’t pretend to have the patience of a proper researcher or any deep appreciation for calculation.
The SAPS employs around 200 000 people from what I can ascertain and costs about R60 billion per year to run. It will make approximately 2 million arrests this year if I have found the correct numbers online, therefore costing around R30 000 per arrest.
Paying a R5 000 bounty per criminal convicted would be substantially cheaper than paying for the hundreds of man hours for lazy, useless cops to round up criminals, particularly when one considers that conviction rates are pitiful. This way, the community can hand over criminals with all the information necessary to have them convicted at a fraction of the cost.
So I propose that private individuals hunt down those of a criminal inclination - communities often seem to know who the crooks are so let’s make the whole business more interesting and economically satisfying.
Instead of money being paid to overweight police officers, and particularly those higher ranking, politically astute fatcats, it could be paid to bounty hunters and through that, find its way back into the community and provide a source of income to many households. No training would be required and as pointed out earlier, it appears that the current police curriculum has some gaping holes in it anyway.
In a rather superb corollary to catching criminals at a lower cost, when an individual becomes comfortably wealthy and earns R1 000 000 per annum because her efforts have resulted in 200 people being arrested, at least she would have deserved it!
SARS can even be placated by the SAPS withholding a fixed tax of 20% on all bounties paid…