What shouldn’t have surprised me is the reaction of most of the people-on-the-street.
Like bloodthirsty zombies they gleefully agree with giving the police force this freedom. “Ya, kill the bastards” is the generic response from Joe and Johanna Citizen. But I’m not happy, as you might have guessed.
The first thing to realise – and it’s sometimes a lifetime in the realising, if it comes at all – is that the Police Are Not Your Friends.
I grew up being told by all adults and most contemporaries that the “policeman is your friend”. When lost, afraid or in doubt, the friendly Bobby on the Beat was there to assist and reassure you. If anything Bad were to happen, head straight for the nearest policeman. This, it turns out, was a load of bollocks.
The police force exists only to serve – through violence if and when necessary – the ruling elite. A state of lawlessness, or one where the average citizen either feels threatened enough by crime to withdraw his support of the government, or one where the average citizen feels that general anarchy is permissible, is certainly not the way to hang onto power.
The ANC made hugely unrealistic promises to the people of South Africa, and, having failed to bring to pass the golden age of prosperity and comfort for all, they’re turning – as so many governments the world over – to consolidating their grip on the people before it slips from their control. By, importantly, increasing the licence of the armed forces of the state – the Police primary among them – to deal forcefully with crime, lawlessness and -probably, eventually – citizen insurrection.
The ANC also see the promise of further entrenching their wealth and power via the hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup being threatened through the rise of violent acts of the good people of South Africa. So, they act to curtail this possibility – and the future possibility of increasing citizen unrest – by, inter alia, handing the police force the ability to kill almost without fear of retribution.
For my fellows who gleefully insist that this is the way to combat crime, I have a couple of questions.
Firstly: has the state handed you the right to protect yourself and/or your property by shooting-to-kill? Or are there only a handful of carefully sanctioned individuals who may do this?
Secondly: Among this handful of kill-empowered individuals, how many of them would you trust not to shoot-to-kill you or your loved ones?
People, people – this is so not a good move forward. Unless, of course, you consider a fascist police state to be the optimal living condition.