Another police station robbed – do we have the rule of law?

This weekend another police station was robbed.

According to News24 a huge manhunt was launched after the Kareedouw police station in the Eastern Cape was hit by four armed robbers who made off with a number of firearms from the police station’s safe.

According to the DispatchLIVE this is the third police station to be robbed in the last 18 months.

In March 2017 30 police guns stolen from the Peddie police station, and the  Ngcobo police station was robbed by a church in February.

My Take

I’ve been following the land debate fairly closely, so I read Mondli Makhanya‘s piece over the weekend about the dangers of choosing populism over the rule of law.

There are a few issues I had with it. The first was that a constitutional amendment would still be the rule of law. If the amendment fails, then we’ll see what happens, but at this point we’re talking about a change in law.

There are scary parallels between what is going on in South Africa, and what happened in Zimbabwe with their land reform and Makhanya does a good job of highlighting them, but I think it is a bit premature right now. The dichotomy presented in the headline isn’t the one we face.

The second was, it bugs me when people use populism as a snarl term. The dictionary definition of populism is “support for the concerns of ordinary people,” or “the quality of appealing to or being aimed at ordinary people.”

That is the very point to just about every democratically elected government. Our constitution opens with “We, the people of South Africa…”

If government isn’t about the concerns of ordinary people, who is it about?

Even if the amendment fails, if the people of South Africa, as represented by our elected officials, choose a different path – that should still be populism. We aren’t a feudal society which primarily caters to a noble class, or at least that’s not what we’re trying to be.

Both sides of this argument should be geared around what supports the concerns of ordinary people. To tar the one you oppose as being “populist” just strikes me as ceding ground to it.

But these robberies also have me raising a third issue: Do we have the rule of law?

When armed robbers, rather than avoiding police stations for fear of arrest, are robbing them in order to get guns, do we have the rule of law?

SowetanLIVE reports that a family of four was massacred in KwaZulu Natal over this same weekend, do we have the rule of law?

Our ruling party has had an ongoing problem with political assassinations, do we have the rule of law?

  • Picture of a gavel courtesy of Mdesigns at Pixabay.

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