Police seem unable to differentiate between genuine emergency curfew breakers and those who just head out on the town in defiance of COVID-19 regulations. And anger rises after a man was arrested for rushing to the hospital to get formula for his newborn. Already, a lot of fury swirls around Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and his current enforcement. For many people, they feel that priorities shift away from focusing on real crime during the lockdown. How much of a problem is the inhumanity of some decisions taken by the police?
Police inhumanity no joke during COVID-19
People know a second wave of the coronavirus hit the country. And times become very difficult for those who lost their jobs once again. So, there’s a lot of resentment and anger at the now indefinite Level 3 lockdown. Recall, the president of South Africa said that country remains on the Level 3 lockdown until the second wave curve starts coming down. And that could be months away yet. But some people grow angry as taxis remain packed. So, many people wonder why the government even bothers with the lockdown.
And some people report that the police act in a rather inhumane way. One of the most recent incidents came to light via New 24 on January 13. According to their report, a man whose newborn child needed urgent milk formula rushed off to the Unitas Hospital in Centurion. However, he was stopped at 2.30 in the morning and arrested. His wife had to carry the newborn, the formula, and take her two minor kids home in the night, alone and on foot. He was arrested despite proving he needed the formula and why it was an emergency.
Police incapable of differentiating between genuine need and deliberate curfew breakers?
Clearly, the man wasn’t rushing out to party hard, Or mix with other people in a Shebeen. Have the Police forgotten what the purpose of the Level 3 lockdown is all about? it’s supposed to prevent people from gathering in groups. It’s meant to keep people indoors so they can’t gather in groups and drink. So, why can’t the police tell the difference between a newborn desperately ending milk formula and a drunkard on his way home?
Surely the application of law comes with some onus for the police to figure out the difference between the intention of the lawbreaker? And, how right does an arrest make anything if the mom of a newborn has to walk around with her baby in the dead of night? After all, it’s okay for her to break curfew after they arrest her husband, but not for him to undertake a genuine emergency trip? Of course, it’s unlikely this is the only such incident. In the crowded township areas, people, complain about this sort of thing all the time.
SAPS is supposed to be a service to the community
The South African Police Service used to be called just the South African Police. Notably, the word “Service” means just that: Service to the community, rather than a draconian organization. After all, on their website, the Police Service clearly states, that they should be “guided by the needs of the community.” Surely a man rushing home with an urgent delivery of formula for his newborn had a need? The site also notes that they should “exercise the powers conferred upon us in a responsible and controlled manner.”
Leaving a mom to walk clutching a newborn, two minors, and the formula in the wee hours of the night hardly sounds “responsible and controlled.”
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