Tummies in, mouths shut!

2010-12-11 08:53

Stomachs in! Chests out! With this injunction, National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has sought to infuse a spirit of action into the service.

If this week is anything to go by, the battle against crime does not feel as unwinnable as it once did.

Nimble police work ensured that the murder of Anni Dewani was not simply assigned to the file of “tourist murder” and thereby notched up by the First World as yet further evidence of how South Africa is not a safe place for holidaymakers.
Instead, intelligence and detective skills suggest far more complex and sinister motives in which it is alleged that Shrien Dewani, Anni’s husband by traditional rites, attempted to use South Africa’s reputation for violent crime as a convenient backdrop for ulterior motives.

To get the case to court and to reveal the twist in the awful murder, police had to work night and day to turn witnesses, arrest suspects and sign a plea bargain with Dewani’s driver, Zola Tongo, who claims to have arranged the hit on Anni.

The case required transnational police work, all of which was accomplished in under a month.

This week, too, former City Press editor, now Media24 executive, Mathatha Tsedu, could finally lay the spirit of his son, Avhatakali, to rest.

But, as Tsedu said, it will not bring the young man back.

Tsedu and Avhatakali’s mum, Dzudzanani, laid wreaths at the spot in Honeydew where Avhatakali was murdered in a hit ordered by his wife, Mulalo Sividzho.

That case was also solved through solid police work and four years later she was convicted with two co-accused.

Both cases, among others, reveal that it is very easy to hire a hitman in South Africa.

But the parade of hitmen through the courts should give the hired guns pause for thought.

The clear message is: you will be caught.

In two further instances of good detective work, a shocking child pornography ring run by a dysfunctional and dangerous family has been bust.

And while some are making a race-fest of the murder of the Potgieter family on an Mpumalanga farm last week, the fact is that six suspects are already behind bars.

All of this positive action by the men and women in blue shows us that crime need not be an inevitable part of life in South Africa.

Sadly, the week was marred by Cele calling Dewani “a monkey (who) came all the way from London”.

It has overshadowed the work of his officers and suggests the police motto should become “Stomachs in, chests out, mouths shut”.

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