Marikana Tragedy and the Report

2015-06-26 17:55

Marikana mayhem and tragedy was the country's retreat, a regress, a setback, a moving backwards.

The weltanschauung of the South African police is deeply rooted in the past. That past was military policing designed for the brutal repression of dissent. The seeds of its birth were watered with oppression, brutal suppression,  hounding down of alternative opinions; considering the demonstrations and legitimate grudges of Black people with complete disdain.

During the dawn of democracy and the ushering in of the new South Africa this ghost was not exorcised within the police. The police force still find it difficult to put away its draconic and oppressive robes when it appeared on the amphitheaters of a free democratic society.

It is not only Marikana, consider also how Andries Tatane was grazed down. How come the police fail so wobbly in its natural civilian work of safety and protection of citizens but be so effective in suppressing protests? I mean when coming to crime in the country to most citizens the question is no longer whether the criminals will strike at me or my residence, the question is when they will strike!

I have reviewed the Farlam Commission Report in its entirety. The central philosophical thrust of Judge Farlam is based on the considerations of the systems and structures of policing. He reviewed issues of structures, operations and the culture and practice of policing. And centered the Report on that. He found most policing systems, culture and operations rigidly military, that is rooted in the past.

From reviewing the Farlam Report I then did a comparative study of policing during the era of apartheid and the current policing. I reviewed manuals in both policing eras.

I noted some glaring similarities. I noted the same terminology being used. Where apartheid policing was contextualized and fixated in the use of such terms  like tactical operations on the ground, which is the process of applying ground intelligence in encircling and trapping down protesting Blacks, the same terminology (tactical operations) is being used in this era of democracy. And there are similar end-results as seen in Marikana where protesting Blacks were encircled and trapped for mass shooting, Sharpville style.

Simply stated there is a hermeneutical problem on the cultural aspects of the current police that is rooted in the apartheid policing. And this forced a highly experienced Judge to focus and center his Report on this.

Judge Farlam recommends that the systems, processes and culture of policing be changed from military type to a more professional people oriented policing, focused on intelligence gathering before acting.

That is what Judge Farlam said: the operations were defective of intelligence.

It would require a revolution of seismic and tsunamic proportions to wake the South African police force from its frozen slumber in military anomie.

My sister Jennifer Eberhardt who is the associate professor of psychology at Stanford University in the United States has proved in her research paper that: Human societies are more likely to condone violence against Blacks. This is a result of societies' broader inability to accept Blacks as fully human beings but as apes.

That is according to her research paper: "Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization and Contemporary Consequences”.

Jennifer has demonstrated through a 6 year long wide ranging study that Blacks are considered to be apes.

After that discovery that Blacks are considered to be apes the research study concludes: Those people who are ape-like are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not.

This was the most painful research my dear sister Jennifer has to undertake in her life as a psychology professor. As a black woman the findings shook her and left her deeply depressed. She complained loud: "We are still associated with apes”!!

Jennifer is not an ordinary professor - she has a Harvard PhD and went on to receive MacArthur 'genius' award.

I knew her through her work she does at SPARQ, (Stanford Center for Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), that is creating and sharing social psychological insights with people working to improve society.

Dehumanization and associating Black people with apes have been used for centuries to justify mass murders of Blacks. Often, Blacks are the cannon fodders to fan the embers of delusional fears of crime and disorder. Black people are regarded as threat and scroungers.

In South Africa the past needs to be exorcised in our midst. As Barack Obama recently said about the Charleston shooting: "Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years before."

A few years ago two Harvard Professors Robert I. Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeiffer wrote a book about the Knowing – Doing Gap. They probably should have been told that the ultimate Laboratory for people who know but fail to implement what they know live in South Africa.

We celebrate ourselves of having great institutions and documents of democracy – but if we fail to implement or do according to their spirit what is the value, what is the point?

How do we explain this fact that after many years post Apartheid,  a Judge in a 2 year long Commission is telling us that all these years of democracy and freedom the police that we have is not in tune with the spirit of democracy and needs to be transform into a more civil people's institution?

What the police did in Marikana resembled a child that was denied the psychosocial reinforcements imperative for a sound integral growth and healthy development, and therefore still behave as a child even after maturing.

This time let us do as we know! Implement! South Africans are not hard people to forgive - but only be genuine in your actions.


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