Crime and consequence: Some thoughts on our Gangster State

There is a saying along the lines of “if you do the crime you must do the time”. I am not sure if this still applies. I have become very skeptical as I daily witness the way people do the most dastardly deeds in full view of the world around with no fear of consequence or fear of been held to account.

Sadly it starts at the top of the food chain. Over the weekend South Africans were left in a state of mild shock with the incredible revelations in a book by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh about Mr Ten Percent Ace Magashula. I have not read the book. I don’t think I really need to. The Zondo commission into state capture is doing enough to make one sick to very depths of one’s soul. The level of impunity simply goes beyond my feeble imagination. One cannot even say it's mind boggling. “Mind boggling” is just not enough.

Yes, there have been one or two court appearances. Whether that greasy little man Agrizzi is really going to face jail time is unlikely. All the while this is happening there are photographs in the public domain of Jacob Zuma buddy buddying up to Gavin Watson. Our ex head of state been branded like a willing puppet; signed, sealed and captured by a super rich godfather-like henchman.

And so one can carry on. Now we have Andile Ramaphosa implicated in all sorts of rubbish. Yes he said he made a mistake and is sorry. However, I cannot help but think that surely he must have smelt a rat or seeing something was not right. Either that or his senses were so numbed by the sight and smell of money he simply could not see the danger lurking in broad daylight.

Let’s take a step down the ladder. Every morning I wake to the sound of Kieno Kammies. My wife’s alarm goes off and I reach out like Pavlov’s dog to turn on the radio. On Monday morning one of the first things that came with the news was a shooting in Hout Bay. As the morning progressed we learnt that four people had been killed and some injured. This all because one group wanted a taxi route all to themselves. They had obviously never heard of competition and free enterprise. Or maybe they know all that. They may then have simply made the decision that the only way to resolve the problem was to take out the competition. Just shoot the hell out of those who dare infringe on their turf.

Up until this morning no arrests had been made. It was also revealed this morning that the Hout Bay police are horribly short staffed and do not have the capacity to deal with this level of crime. Now I need to be excused if I sound skeptical, but I have my doubts there will be any consequence for the guys who pulled this off. They may indeed have committed the perfect crime, knowing the chances of been caught are minimal and they’ll get away with it.

Let’s remove one more link. My morning and afternoon commute is about 7 kilometers. On a good day it takes me seven minutes to get to work. I mean I am the envy of all my colleagues who spend hours in traffic. Yet every day I drive in fear. The level of lawlessness I witness every single day leaves me breathless with all the sighs of relief when I get home. At times it’s more like “phew we made it unscathed”.

Here’s the kicker. It’s not just the taxis, but the regular oaks in the Golf Gti’s and the BEEmm’s and the ultra pimped up whatevers. Driving across red lights seems to be the fashion at the moment with driving into oncoming traffic a close second. Free for all is the ultimate understatement. And then there’s me trying to be the ever obedient law abiding citizen playing by the rules while all those around are breaking all boundaries because they can knowing and there will be no consequence.

Okay, before you jump up and down, I am not all innocent. I have adopted the “when in Rome” kinda way of doing things. Yet all around me all I ever see is crime with no hope of consequence. Yes the cops are understaffed and they’ve got no budget and they’ve got all the other excuses just waiting to be used. But then you have a couple off cops come around in a quiet street to write out tickets and put them on parked cars or you’ll see a lone wolf hiding behind a bush with camera hoping to catch the predatory speedster moseying his way to work at a slightly faster rate of knots than what is allowed.

I have reached the bottom of the chain and I’m looking up.

When I was a lighty, my father taught me a very simple lesson. There is right and there is wrong. If you do the right thing all will be well with you most times. You may get some flack along the way but in the end doing the right thing is always best. However, if you do wrong, there will be a consequence. If you lie and cheat, you will be found out. And my old man had a way of sniffing out wrong things. There was just no way of hiding from him. All the rules were based on the biblical principle of do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Treat people with respect and they will respect you. Respect the law and as he would say “keep your nose clean”.

At school there was a definite line of discipline. Teachers carried canes and if your homework was not done, there were consequences. So we did what needed to be done. There was respect for law and what was right. Okay, admittedly, there were deviants here and there. All was not perfect.

And then came 1994. Before that our parents endured apartheid. It was a crime against humanity. It was about men enforcing power over another. It was about the white tribe enslaving people in order to rule over them with brute force. However nothing could have prepared us for when a group of men were let loose like children in a candy store filled with untold riches.

They were given the right too raid and feast as much as they could. All they had to do was ensure they would never get caught. It was a free for all. Crime with no consequence. Our beloved country has become the scene of the perfect crime. All the way up the food chain, from our homes where children disrespect their parents, to the class rooms where our children victimize their teachers, to the roads we drive on where laws are ignored and broken, to the halls of government where crimes of corruption are committed and silence is bought and sold no matter the price. Okay, let’s be fair. It was never all that squeaky clean. Shit happened. It was just not so clear and present.                      

Amidst all the books that are written and exposes done by the media, we wait for justice. The overwhelming question is “when?” When will justice prevail? Will Ace, Jacob, the Guptas, Watson, the taxi shooters and all the other pawns on the board ever experience the consequences of their crimes?

I wish I knew. All that is left for me is to never stop looking at the immense beauty of the country I live in and live with a heart filled with hope.

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