Home Opinion and Features It’s sad when we fear those meant to protect us

It’s sad when we fear those meant to protect us

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Last week, the focus was once again sharply drawn to police brutality after the shocking and painful murder of young Nathaniel Julies.

The identities of the two officers accused of murdering Down Syndrome teen Nathaniel Julies has been revealed.Sergeant Simon Ndyalvane and Constable Caylene Whiteboy appeared briefly at the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto on Monday. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency

Waseem Carrim

Last week, the focus was once again sharply drawn to police brutality after the shocking and painful murder of young Nathaniel Julies.

The continued distress of the South African coloured community was also a major point of reflection.

South Africa is a violent society.

Our continued statistics of murder, rape, gender-based violence are a shame on our country and our democracy.

The Department of Police and the South African Police Services (SAPS) receives a massive share of the National Budget to enforce law and order, yet citizens often live in fear of the police force that is meant to protect them.

It is also important to recognise the class contradictions that exist in our society.

Both Collins Khoza, murdered in Alexandria during the lockdown by the South African National Defence Force and Nathaniel Julies, murdered in Eldorado Park by the South African Police Services, hail from historically disadvantaged areas in our country.

These areas are ravaged by poverty, unemployment and inequality.

In South Africa, if you are poor you are treated brutally by law enforcement.

This is against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States against the disproportionate killings of young black men by law enforcement.

How do we as South Africa account for the killing of an unarmed, 16-year-old, disabled young man at the hands of our own law enforcement?

Our National Development Plan, 2030 indicates that “people living in South Africa should feel safe and have no fear of crime”.

Women, children and vulnerable groups should feel protected.

They should have confidence in the criminal justice system to effectively apprehend and prosecute criminals who violate individual and community safety.

The South African Police Service and metro police should be professional institutions staffed by skilled, disciplined, ethical individuals who value their work and serve the community.

Many citizens dread walking into a South African Police Service office to certify an affidavit or report an accident.

How does one then have confidence that you can report more serious crimes and that they will be legitimately recorded and investigated, and that the criminal justice system will work for the citizenry.

Equally, we know, bribery and corruption has seeped deeply into our police force – if you are driving drunk or you want a docket to disappear, for a price, it can be done.

How does anyone have faith in the system, when as ordinary citizens we know that these things happen?

This is not to brand the entire policy force as corrupt – there are many committed hard-working individuals who try and effect meaningful change – they are however fighting against the tide.

We can only hope that there will be justice for Collins Khoza and Nathaniel Julies.

We can only hope there will be consequences for the perpetrators of this violence.

We can only hope that from the abyss we can find the moral high ground again and achieve the society we once envisaged.

* Waseem Carrim is the chief executive of the National Youth Development Agency.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Times