Two days ago in this same space, we lamented the inefficient intelligence gathering capacity of our law enforcement agencies, which is one of the contributory factors to soaring crime levels.
We based our argument on the crisis unfolding in Vuwani, Limpopo, where several schools were torched by residents, who are protesting against a decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board to include them in the new Malamulele municipality‚ while they want to remain under the Makhado municipality.
On Tuesday, thugs masquerading as protesters burnt four schools. The following day, nine more went up in smoke.
Police have now disclosed more schools have been attacked, bringing the total number to a staggering 22. If police in the area do use the services of the crime intelligence unit, how was it possible for vandals to attack so many schools over nearly a week?
And if we have an efficient police service, why, after so many days of mayhem, has not a single individual been arrested in the area?
We are mindful of the shocking conditions under which our police work, with many stations facing a chronic lack of equipment. But when criminals are so brazen they bring all services, including schooling, to a halt and cause massive damage to public infrastructure, we expect police to channel whatever resources they have to restore law and order.
The department of basic education has estimated that rebuilding vandalised schools could cost more than R400 million. This is money down the drain in a country in which millions of people are without jobs, while many others can’t even afford the basic necessities.
The chaos in Limpopo is an example of how criminality and lawlessness, if tolerated, can destroy society. Criminals posing as disgruntled residents have been allowed to gamble with the future of young children, who they are shamelessly using as bargaining tools.
Unless the book is thrown at Vuwani hooligans, the anarchy we are witnessing in the area will replicate itself in several parts of the country – at a much bigger cost than R400 million.