VUKILE DLWATI: SA is a crime scene cops mopped up for BRICS
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VUKILE DLWATI: SA is a crime scene cops mopped up for BRICS

Jun 24, 2023


Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution contains the Bill of Rights, which alludes to the right to freedom and security of each citizen.

This includes, among others, the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources; not to be tortured in any way; and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman, or degrading way.

It occurs to me that the South African government has no regard for citizens’ right to safety. Our country is a crime scene.

The latest quarterly crime statistics revealed that between April and June 2023, over 6,000 people died violently.

Law enforcement officers are in most cases difficult to locate when ordinary citizens are in distress, or their lives are under threat, and this tramples on their constitutional right to protection.

South Africans are forever looking over their shoulders. A woman is raped and killed every other day, and robberies are rife. The Western Cape, for example, is a classic example of fashionable gun-wielding amid drug turf wars that terrorise communities. Innocent people and children get caught in the crossfire, and they die.

In Johannesburg, there are criminal syndicates operating in shopping malls, stealing handbags from trollies, not excluding hijackings, which are usually followed by killing of victims.

I can go on and on.

We’ve heard on a multitude of occasions how the cops failed to respond timely to crime scenes. Citizens generally lack faith in the country’s law enforcement. At the heart of the State failing ordinary citizens is the shortage of police officers countrywide.

Police Minister Bheki Cele recently acknowledged the shortage of staff - especially detectives - within the South African Police Service (SAPS). The provincial breakdown of the shortage of cops is as follows:

Western Cape: -24.34%Eastern Cape: -10.61%Northern Cape: -25.94%Free State: -23.76%KwaZulu-Natal: -23.31%North West: -32.89%Limpopo: -19.35%Gauteng: -5.26%


The South African government went all out to protect delegates during the 15th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit that took place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 22-24 August 2023.

They enjoyed a security bubble.

A multitude of international heads of State attended the summit, prompting the State to beef up security. The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) was deployed, and it worked in conjunction with SAPS, the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department and Johannesburg Metro Police Department to curb crime.

Boots from the South African National Defence Force were on the ground too. I am not privy to the financial expenditure for the BRICS security operation, but from an onlooker’s perspective, it’s hefty.

The richest square mile in Africa, Sandton, was littered with law enforcement officials, some roads were closed, and there were various traffic diversions. Aircraft could be seen and heard hovering above amid the summit.

Lucky are those with worldly powers.

NatJoints ahead of the conference said they had mobilised maximum resources with “the aim of preventing and combating any form of opportunistic crime, pre-, during and post the summit”.

"To have 40% of the world all together in one country is a serious challenge, but we are not scared," said Cele as he addressed the media ahead of the BRICS Summit.

I so wish the same energy and macho approach would be applied to day-to-day policing in South Africa.


On the eve of Youth Day, about two or three years ago, I was walking home from work just before 6pm. I was a street away from my flat, but little did I know that I was clandestinely being followed by a syndicate of pavement robbers.

I was alert that evening, but as soon as I got closer to my place, I let my guard down, only to be a victim of crime.

I guess my laptop bag was the low-hanging fruit that saw me being strangled from behind. Fortunately, I was not carrying the device. As I tried to break free from the guy who had had his grip on me from behind, several others were frantically searching me for valuable belongings.

It all happened in a flash. I lost consciousness for several minutes. And guess what? People were walking all over me after the ordeal in the name of minding their own business.

This is very sensible because people fear for their safety. Intervening in such incidents could cost your life, as the criminals perceive you as a distraction. Those scumbags walked away empty-handed, but I am still reeling from the traumatic experience.


Members of the South African Police Service or the Johannesburg Metro Police Department were nowhere to be seen, and this has become the norm.

Moreover, opening a criminal case was the last thing on my mind because I knew it would be a futile exercise. The cops know the crime hotspots, but they’re indifferent about carrying out their duty to protect ordinary citizens.

I am not special or immune to criminal elements. What I seek to underscore is that South Africa is a crime scene, and the State should step up to its constitutional obligation to safeguard citizens.

Incidents like the one I was subjected to are a daily occurrence.

I have nothing against the protection of international visitors, whose mission is one of benefitting the country economically. But charity begins at home. The South African government has turned its back on citizens by failing to carry out its constitutional mandate of protecting you and me.