I usually avoid writing these kinds of posts… but felt I had to do so…
The Rosebank Police Station, made me even more depressed about crime in South Africa. I went there on Friday to get an affadvit. As I walked in, a bad odour hit me and stayed with me for the rest of my short visit. The walls in the reception area were generally chipped, grimy and dirty. The place was gloomy and badly lit. The welcome carpet was tatty and had some of the letters of the “Welcome” ripped out. Broken office furniture lay in a heap to one side. I could see one police officer behind the desk, but mostly I saw overweight people without uniforms or name tags milling around behind the desk. Even though it was early morning, I think they had bored expressions on their faces — no hint of pride or alertness or professionalism that you’d expect from the police service.
As I got my affadavit, a photograph of Jacky Selebi — the bombastic and arrogant police commissioner, who certain people are alleging has links with criminal underworld (denied by Selebi) — beamed down at me. Next to him on the other wall a picture of local MP for Safety and Security, Feroz Cachalia smiled down at me. It was only a few days ago that he — the top crime fighter in Gauteng — and his wife became yet another South African crime statistic when they were mugged walking in a park in a nearby suburb, Emmarentia. It was only a few months ago that the country’s national Safety and Security Minister, Charles Nqakula, told the country to stop “whinging” about crime… and that those who continue to do so should leave the country. (This is a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world).
Just outside the police station, police cars and some civilian cars were parked illegally on a red line directly outside the police station. A toothy car guard had earlier tried to usher me into one of the free spots on the red line. I could see by the look on his face he thought I was a bit strange that I refused to park there.
For the first time in my life I got a feeling of despair and that the crime situation in our beautiful country is hopeless. I’ve always been an outspoken fan of the country and the government, urging people to see the positives and see everything in context, but as I walked into Rosebank police station on Friday morning it hit me like a bolt. A sad realisation.
On all levels: from a police station in Rosebank to the cops and to the politicians at the very top, there seems to be a very big problem. Will crime ever be solved? And what does it mean for us?