Cop-tsotsis: Who will guard the guardians?

2011-04-02 10:42

Recent scandalous behaviour by law enforcement officers and their generals forces us to ask the perennial question: Who will guard the guardians?

Evidence before us suggests that we have entrusted our safety and security to men and women whose scruples and integrity we are entitled to question.

The arrest and court appearance of head of crime intelligence Richard Mdluli is shocking, but it’s only the latest in a series of episodes that make us wonder if there is any difference between those entrusted with maintaining law and order and those set on breaking it.

As matters stand, the former national chief of police, Jackie Selebi, is out on bail after being convicted of supping with drug dealers and a man who has admitted to participating in at least one murder.

Questions have been raised about another senior police officer, Joey Mabasa, after a woman who was at the time his wife went into business with international fugitive Radovan Krejcir.

Krejcir is now in custody, implicated in the murder of another gangster, and for allegedly defrauding a medical aid society.

Even though the former Mrs Mabasa’s business dealings are not illegal, her relationship with the wife of a man known to be already convicted in his own country cannot be left unquestioned.

There is also the small matter of Paul O’Sullivan, whose face tends to appear at each of the significant busts of members of the underworld.

While we cannot deny that O’Sullivan has played a significant and helpful role in helping unearth some of the underworld’s shadiest characters, it is of concern that his role remains unclear.

Allegations levelled against him are also of concern and, if true, would suggest that he is sailing very close to vigilantism.

We have an untenable situation before us.

The rule of law is under serious threat if society cannot trust those it pays to protect it from those who want to ravage it.

It is not hard to imagine what impact reports of utter criminality by their generals must have on the police rank and file.

How are constables and sergeants supposed to respect their commanders if they sup with the scum the poor officers are trying to lock up?

That is why we support a call made by the Institute for Security Studies that President Jacob Zuma urgently establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the police.

To leave things as they are is to precipitate a slide into lawlessness, where citizens take matters into their own hands and those with the biggest guns rule the roost.

That would be a betrayal of the South African dream.

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