Unless our failing policing institution is resuscitated, people’s mindsets will permanently shift to protecting oneself and loved ones.
A few days ago, Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga was held at gunpoint and, together with her protective unit, became another statistic of violent crime.
The news sent shockwaves to anyone but the general public who were more stunned when Police Minister Bheki Cele expressed shock. Chikunga’s experience is not unique in South Africa but it has exposed the rocketing levels of crime.
Not long ago, a video circulated on TikTok of a G4S van that was targeted by criminals who used heavy machinery and bombs to break through — walking away with what seemed like cases of cash. This is also not a unique experience in South Africa.
Just last week, the Mail & Guardian’s editorial team became a victim of crime. Two of our journalists’ homes were invaded by criminals. In the same week, a tourist from the United States (one of our biggest trading partners whom we have gone toe to toe with in foreign policy over the last few months) was killed while using an ATM in one of Cape Town’s townships.
What is clear is that people can no longer sit idly by while criminals continue to run rampant. The brass at the top have failed, raising a number of questions.
People have now been forced to seriously consider whether the duty to protect one’s family can be left to the police. Just recently, the national commissioner of police, General Fannie Masemola, raised concern about the pressure that budget cuts were placing on police services.
Even though criminals are taking ownership of the country, the treasury wants the South African Police Service (SAPS) to impose stringent cost containment measures which include budget cuts that may affect our policing as well as its human resources priorities that are planned for the current financial year, Masemola said.
It’s no secret that police are under-resourced, underfunded, overworked and the morale is low.
With these budget cuts, we are all likely to feel the effects of an even more strained policing system.
“To put it frankly, the SAPS cannot afford budget cuts, in any form and shape, because criminals are becoming more brazen and innovative every day. Cutting budgets affects our operational plans and our response and approach to fighting crime,” Masemola said.
It is clear that more and more people will turn to community forums to protect their country from lawlessness. Unless our failing policing institution is resuscitated, people’s mindsets will permanently shift to protecting oneself and loved ones.