Hands up, all those who can name the metro police chiefs of Tshwane, Cape Town or Johannesburg. No? But everyone knows that, in Ekurhuleni, it is Robert McBride. Few people care to know the identity of their metro police chiefs, let alone monitor their foibles or achievements, writes Rapule Tabane.
Is McBride a victim of the media, or of himself? Read File-Ntsikelelo Moya‘s argument
Hands up, all those who can name the metro police chiefs of Tshwane, Cape Town or Johannesburg. No? But everyone knows that, in Ekurhuleni, it is Robert McBride.
Few people care to know the identity of their metro police chiefs, let alone monitor their foibles or achievements. So I have to ask: in which capacity is McBride being pursued so relentlessly for an alleged case of drunken driving?
Is it maybe the victims, or families of the victims, of the accident? No, because there were no casualties.
If not, it must be all those South African citizens who worry about the state of Ekurhuleni. If we are assessing his performance as metro police chief because we all care about Ekurhuleni, should we perhaps take into account its successes, considering that, in comparison to the rest of the country, the metro police there have a pretty good record when it comes to crime-fighting?
Last week, a Radio 702 caller gave an account of how McBride was the first to arrive at his house at 2am after he had been robbed. And that was an ordinary citizen, not a prominent politician.
I have never met McBride, but I am troubled by the recent media frenzy. He seems to be deliberately hunted, his every movement scrutinised for an infraction. That he has a short fuse and cannot contain his anger does him no good. These character faults make him an easy target for those who will never forgive him for his role as an Umkhonto weSizwe cadre in the Magoo’s Bar bombing, in which three white South Africans were killed. The fact that he spent time on death row for this incident and was pardoned by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s amnesty committee clearly counts for nothing.
The drunk-driving saga will come and go. He will probably survive it, like he has many other scandals. But his persecutors will not rest until they get a pound of his flesh. And soon something else will come up. And the media will dance to the tune of those who celebrate Umkhonto weSizwe founder Nelson Mandela, but condemn those who took MK orders.
Every struggle has its casualties; McBride is the fall guy of the liberation movement.
Let him face the music for specific offences. But should the country come to a standstill because McBride is alleged to have driven drunk?
I think not.
Rapule Tabane is associate deputy editor