Carping Point: Weapons of justice misfires in hands of impotent state

EFF national shutdown. Picture by Bongani Mbatha from African News Agency /ANA.

EFF national shutdown. Picture by Bongani Mbatha from African News Agency /ANA.

Published Mar 25, 2023


Johannesburg - South Africans were astounded on Monday. Not by the ‘national shutdown’ or the feverish two-fingered musings of the grammatically incontinent Dudu Sambudla Zuma. They weren’t astonished either by the racism that lurked on the edges of – and often popped through – the observations of some of white twitter.

They weren’t even that shocked at the unprecedented 24 uninterrupted hours of electricity from Eskom. What really shocked them was the fact that we actually have a police service that can deploy when there is an actual threat to national security.

The EFF had been agitating for a total shutdown. Disused tyres had been dropped off all over the place. It was an ominous portent because tyres have a particularly odious record in South African politics; as impromptu blockades, first rendering roads impassable and then fast-tracking potholes. Thirty years ago, they were also used by ‘people’s courts’ to be placed around victims’ necks, doused in petrol and set alight.

It’s a nuance that would not have been lost on the EFF, which spent the weekend engaging in verbal gymnastics implying violence and then denying it – the hallmark of a bullying hypocrite and a clear sign of the future if it becomes a minority government partner after 2024. It’s hardly surprising that one of its most prominent members, the people’s advocate, shunned no work no pay to ditch his beret for his silk gown to be in court for his client in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The police confiscated the tyres – thousands of them. That was a shocking act of proactive policing in the first place – especially after footage of them standing by in July 2021 as people helped themselves to whatever they wanted from Durban shops. Even more shocking was the announcement by Police Minister Bheki Cele that 87 people had been arrested by 7am on Monday morning, before a stone or a Molotov cocktail had even been thrown.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation of all, after living through scores of amateur videos shot in police stations of cops sleeping, was the fact that we actually have hi-tech crime command centres the equal of First World countries thanks to the cops themselves posting screen grabs of them being fed live footage from street cameras, enabling senior officers to deploy resources as and when they need to.

It’s an affront for the simple reason that we finally discovered that when the state wants to act it can and does. Which puts the unbelievable inaction in bringing the ringleaders of the July 2021 insurrection into very sharp relief. It also explains the ongoing impunity of the tenderpreneur rings and sabotage gangs terrorising Eskom.

Don’t hold your breath when it comes to finding out who assassinated (or, more to the point, ordered) the double assassination of ace corruption buster Cloete Murray and his son Thomas in broad daylight last Saturday. The cops have got the kit. They have the investigators. But their bosses won’t have the stomach to do the politically unpalatable and bring the tarnished elites to book.

Cry the beloved country.

The Saturday Star