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Doubts about police top brass cost the police our trust

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-04-23 00:09:44.0
Richard Mdluli. File photo.
Image by: GALLO IMAGES

The Times Editorial: That there is something deeply worrying about the state of the police force cannot be disputed. Elsewhere in this newspaper today we publish a story about the SA Policing Union's battle with the police over union members who have been found unfit to carry a firearm.

Last week, the union successfully made an urgent application for an interdict to stop its members from being redeployed and their weapons confiscated.

Some union members in North West have been assigned as security guards for police buildings.

The matter will now go to the Labour Court for arbitration.

The issue is symbolic of the rudderless state in which our national police service finds itself.

But how can it be otherwise when the service is being torn apart by the seemingly inappropriate actions of its senior leadership?

The national police commissioner, Bheki Cele, is waiting for the outcome of an inquiry to determine whether he is fit to hold office, and the acting commissioner appears to be doing little apart from maintaining the status quo.

Then there is the remarkable reinstatement of police spy boss Richard Mdluli, and the very damaging and serious questions about his conduct. Even Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has found himself tainted by the allegations against Mdluli.

It is, then, little wonder that the ordinary men and women meant to protect our country appear to be affected by the lack of leadership.

How do we begin to hold our police officers accountable for their actions when their bosses are allowed to act with impunity. And how can we ask ordinary citizens to trust police officers and believe that they are there to protect them?

Making weak appointments to senior positions - across various government departments - based on friendship, gratitude and favours appear to be a far too regular occurrence in South Africa.

If our government continues doing so it will be at our great peril.

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