The most worrying aspect of safety and security is that our police services are generally regarded as untrustworthy, unreliable and corrupt.  This is not the Direct Democracy Forum’s (the DDF’s) opinion.  This is what we at the DDF hear, wherever we go.

We have to remind ourselves that not all police are bad police. Many are professionals,  proud of their duty to serve and eager to enforce the law honestly and without favour.  We need to identify those police men and women and give them our unqualified support.

Additionally we know that our police are generally under-resourced and probably under-rewarded for performing their duties and they put their lives in jeopardy every day to protect ordinary citizens from the ravages of crime.  They deserve our respect and our support.  But that has to be a two way street.  They do their job and we give them our unconditional respect and support.  They fail to do their job and we must censure them and if their failure is serious enough, even punish them, severely if appropriate. No policeman or woman can be above the law if they are to serve the law.

Our problem will be how to identify the professional policemen and women and how to isolate others who by their failure to serve the law, damage the reputation and credibility of the SAPS, and how to restore to the SAPS the ethics and reputation of professionalism.

Further, it seems the SAPS has been politicised and used to quell justifiable legal and peaceful demonstrations and there have been a number of unarmed civilians killed in anti-establishment demonstrations and activities.  This harks back to the apartheid days where the police were used as an arm of the state rather than an arm of civil society.  It seems also that the police have recently been restructured and ranks re-defined to adopt a more military-like appearance and more military style training.  The DDF is not too happy about these trends and is of the opinion that the trends need to be reversed with the SAPS adopting a more civil society profile and demeanor and discarding its paramilitary and political profiles.

Then of course there are the Selebi and Cele affairs and yet again the the Breytenbach and Richard Mdluli debacle.  Selebi is tried and convicted (and out on medical parole). Cele?  So far he is fired but we wait with bated breath to hear if he will face charges, which he should if only to deal with his alleged corruption in a transparent manner.  The Breytenbach-Mdluli matter is still in process.  Things could certainly be better for the SAPS than evidenced by the behaviour of some of their senior police officers.