There has been public outcry over the recent trending video of what appears to be a group of foreign nationals assaulting members of the South African Police Service. And there should be an outcry.
Any member of the police force in uniform carries the authority of the state, or they should. But questions need to be asked about the tactical approach of the said members to what turned out to be an explosive situation, even yielding a corpse in the process but ending with zero arrests.
Police assaulted, a dead body apparently dumped on the police car, and not a single arrest. Maybe we should take a step back and ask ourselves, where is the leadership in the police service when an officer in full uniform can be assaulted by a member of the public?
What happened to the bullish talk that we’ve been hearing from the political head of the police Minister Fikile Mbalula, otherwise known as the Minister of Twitter?
Surely this should be the time to put some meat on the bones of his constant threats to make criminals shake in their boots.
The simple answer is he has been too busy on Twitter to notice he is presiding over a police force that is very thin on leadership and that his own embarrassing gaffes are not helping the situation.
The top echelons of the police service have been involved in a debilitating power war that is a spillover from the state capture streets.
The same unfortunate actions that have left us with an inactive National Prosecuting Authority, have also left us with a leaderless police service.
The acting national commissioner is always too busy fighting to retain his job in the face of ongoing battles that seek to ensure his loyalties always lie with those in power.
So it is not surprising that, operationally, the police go into dangerous situations armed only with the empty words of their political principal who is only looking for photo opportunities to post onto his Twitter timeline.
A principal who has taken on his role as a police minister like a child would after watching a western movie: behaving like a cowboy who knows he answers to no one but himself.
It was not surprising, therefore, when the minister committed a blunder that left him with egg on his face. The recent gaffe that is borne out of eagerness to please his Twitter followers resulted in the minister posing for photos with a family in mourning en route to a funeral.
They were arrested, made to lie on the roadside for three hours for Mbalula to get his photo op, for Twitter.
Forget that taking of photos of suspects before they appear in court is a transgression in itself, the real question is, whose interests does it serve to hype the actions of the police when in practice there is no strategy in fighting crime?
Who benefits from all the embarrassing and vitriolic war-talk by the minister when it is clear criminals have the upper hand? The recent surge of violence in the Cape flats is a case in point.
We’ve recently had the metered taxi wars in which the police were extremely slow in responding, the gangs following people from the airport and robbing them have resurfaced. Yet all we get is war talk and Twitter posts instead of real leadership.
Mbalula must concern himself with sorting out the mess in the leadership of the police and leave the Twitter vanity to celebrities.