Cops in bad light: Trust in SA police at all-time low
South Africans' dwindling trust in law enforcement is spurred by rising police misconduct, demands urgent reforms for restored faith.
Image: File/Pretoria Rekord
There will be few people surprised that almost three-quarters of South Africans have little or no trust in law enforcement agencies.
And, after the recent incident of VIP Protection Unit thuggery in Johannesburg, there is even less reason to have positive feelings towards our cops.
The Institute for Security Studies’ Willem Els said the latest incident added to the belief that the police “are completely incompetent and out of hand”.
Over the past five years, he said, civil claims because of police misconduct had risen 52% and cost more than R2 billion, money which could have been used to combat crime.
One of the reasons for the lack of trust in our supposed forces of law and order is that they seemingly do little to bring any perpetrators to book – and especially in cases where important people are involved or, even more shockingly, when there are accusations of gender-based violence or sexual assault.
This incompetence is, in some ways, linked to cadre deployment by the ANC. The police have not been immune to this payback scheme for political loyalty.
In addition, arms of the police and intelligence services, not to mention the prosecution authorities, have been used to fight factional battles within the ruling party… the very antithesis of what a professional law enforcement agency should be doing.
Also, there is no doubt that today, many people becoming police officers do so not out of any desire to serve their country, but because they consider it simply as a job.
In some cases, the uniform is also seen as a way to boost income through bribes. A perceived lack of consequences for crime accelerates criminal behaviour.
And a state where law and order is collapsing is not an attractive place for investors. If we want to save our country, first we must save our cops.