When law enforcers lose the plot

2011-03-05 00:00

EARLIER this week, I had to go to a police station to request a copy of a police report for a work laptop computer that was stolen and reported as such 15 months ago.

This was for insurance purposes so that the stolen laptop could be written off. I went in, the police report was captured on the police computer in no time and all that had to be done was to press print and I could be out in 15 minutes, max.

But when the receptionist tried to print the report, it became apparent that there were documents in the printing queue and the printer began spewing pages by the score. The receptionist did not think to cancel the printing jobs already in the queue.

She told me that all the police stations were printing through the same printer.

It beat my logic how officers at a police station on the south coast could drive all the way to this station to pick up print work, but then this would explain why police vehicles are never available at police stations to assist complainants.

The receptionist's mind must have been in severe pain as she paced around the office, asking me to be patient as she repeated that all stations print through her office's printer, looking for an excuse for her incompetence and lack of skills as she did not have the courage to say that she did not have a clue what she was doing.

At some point, she offered to fax me the report but I knew I would not receive it. She could not even print a document, let alone fax it.

After more than an hour passed, I went behind her desk, cancelled the printing jobs and asked her to print my report, which she did and I left.

A mate of mine, who was with me, was concerned that the printer would run out of ink before I could get my report printed.

While there are members of the South African Police Force (SAPF) who have provided many years of good service to the force, there are also members who clog up the system and become an impediment to the goal of ensuring law and order, in the name of service delivery.

The raid this week on the office of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a jibe at the people of South Africa who are its beneficiaries. More preposterous is that not even police general Bheki Cele or his management team knew about the raid. Is it not coincidental that it took place at a time when problems have been raised with regard to the R500-million new police headquarters lease agreement?

How could they take matters into their own hands and become the law itself, as opposed to being the guardians of the law?

Someone knows about this and heads need to roll. It makes one wonder how much the SAPF pays in civil suits as members mess up and infringe on people's rights.

Police think they are the law, as opposed to dispensers of it. I often have to ask SAPF officers to get off their cellphones while driving official vehicles.

How can they expect us to respect the law when they have no regard for it?

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