Friday, April 2, 2010

New ranks a slippery slide to a police state or total control of the masses?

Whats with Africa and it's need to militarize everything and wear fancy Bling Bling when you head of anything?
It's official. All ranks will be changed to military ones, from national police commissioner downwards. Bheki Cele will be known as General Cele and our provincial commissioner, Mamunye Ngobeni, will be Lieutenant-General Ngobeni. The new ranks go all the way down to inspector - now warrant officer.

For those at the bottom of the chain, the ranks of sergeant and constable will remain untouched.

How quickly we have forgotten our past. Do we want a return to PW Botha's total onslaught and a police force that gave what should have been an honourable profession a bad name? From the security police to Vlakplaas and hit squads - that was our nightmare never to reoccur.

But a mere 16 years into our democracy, a new breed of securocrats - many with firm roots in this province - are in charge. We are told that reverting to the military ranks of old is necessary, because of the lack of discipline that supposedly accompanied the demilitarisation of the police after apartheid.

General Cele - as he insisted on being called even before the new system came into operation - says it's part of a new approach of being "fierce" towards criminals while "lenient" to citizens' safety and maintaining good discipline. Yet we all know a mere name change is not about to result in improved policing, better discipline or a more effective fight against crime.

General Cele need only look at our SA National Defence Force - with its military ranks - which has not bred the disciplined and professional soldiers we expected in a modern South Africa. What the new system might well do, though, is give some of our policemen and women a licence to act with brutality and violence, alienating our communities further.

So will the new emphasis on a police "force" result in a decrease in crime? Not one iota I should Imagine.