Friday, March 1, 2013

Police Brutality and crime in South Africa


Dear South Africa
Lucky Dube shot dead near Jburg in 2007

Greetings from the rest of Afrika!                                                             

After my greetings many as the sands of our shores and calm like the palm trees of our lands, I ask you how Mandela fares. Only recently we joined you in prayer because he was unwell. Then like he came out of hospital and we were delighted. I tell you that we here sang songs and wrote poems for we too love Madiba. Please give him my greetings. I also ask you to give him a good time in doing your best in all spheres.

Our greetings used to be longer than that in Afrika years back when the Ubuntu spirit was fully alive. It is not dead. I write this because I fully believe that a person is a person through other persons. I am because you are. This is the only authority I have in daring to write to you also from a troubled African country. Let me go straight to the issue even if in my land they say that information is not given out without preparation. I hasten then like an ostrich that sees fire consume grass in a savannah fast and knows that she has to save her legs and those of her children. I come with grief to join you again.

I write with pain to say we cannot allow ourselves to sleep. We cannot live in violence. I write to you with much anguish in my heart, dear South Africa.  I am disturbed. And believe me, to hit this keyboard at this time of the night is not what I was planning until I sat in front of my TV to catch my breath. Instead my tea went cold on my lap. There is too much violence in the land. Police brutality and criminal action. How long will the land I read about in A Walk in The Night by Alex La Guma persist there at home? Have you checked our statistics on deaths in the country. You might be surprised to note they rival war -torn regions.

I do not want to digress and tell you more stories. The reality- not story- of how your police beat and dragged Mido Macia, a 27- year- old- taxi driver from Mozambique while tied to a police vehicle is harrowing. I am devasted. This is the reason that although I would like to sleep I cannot until I write to you.

 I know there are more problems in South Afrika. Only recently, I read you a poem in different venues on the deaths of 34 miners at Marikana.  But how do I sleep tonight when I saw that police tied this taxi driver to a van and drove him on the street to Davidson Police Station? My head is bent in absolute pain and sorrow. I weep.

This is something I last heard of in Kenya during colonial times. Yes, a British DO would tie Afrikans to a moving vehicle and then drive fast and kill them. But now, South Afrika, we have killed Mido Macia in a horrific way. He has died with injuries on his head and the rest of his body. Is our continent going to work to take away the nightmare of violence? We already have too much with the violence of poverty, Aids, ethnic conflicts, rape, terror, hunger and environmental destruction. Afrika must put its best foot out. Your land is not poor.

For Mido Macia, South Afrikans are out singing those songs they sang against apartheid again and its oppression. The ordinary people are holding hands to ask for justice. Your people, children, women and men are crying tonight. I thank them because they have not grown indifferent to violence. Why have the police become so used to brutality? They people are asking why. But is this enough? On the internet over 3 000 stories are showing in searches since only three hours ago. The death of Mido Macia is unacceptable! We feel aggrieved as humanity.We do.

We have not forgotten that 34 were killed by police in August 2012.

News of killings in South Africa and this not only by police, have become common place. When I visited your country recently, Jub- Jub a famous musician was convicted in court for having driven over some school students. He was drunk driving. He was amused and laughing when this happened. At the dock, arrogance transpired. Perhaps there the light note betrayed an attitude that it is easy to get away with it. I do remember the distraught parents of the children who were killed.

We all miss Lucky Dube. He too was murdered near Johannesburg.

 I say all these things we have to improve. We have to look at one another in the eye and ask how we want to live. Is your country going to go down in history as forever the home of violence?  The Oscar Pistorious case went. It was fast and furious. We expect the same speedy action for this taxi driver. See how the case of Pistorious’ brother who also run over a woman has taken long in court?
Rapper Jub-Jub run over school children on a drunk driving spree

The policemen that have murdered Mido Macia cannot be entrusted with public security again. You must sack them and tell the world that you have done so! As well as that, reform your police with help from outside. Perhaps there is nothing left to save in them after the days of apartheid. I see how brutal Kenyan police are too.

I dare propose that due to the history of apartheid, your country is one of those that must have a brand new police force. I am not only asking why Mido Macia died like this. Here is a practical suggestion. You will need to decide whether your country should be hostile to other Afrikans, since Mido Macia was from Mozambique or if your country will face itself and see that it needs almost a semi peace - keeping police force from an entirely different country. Such arrangements can be made with international police until your people have gone through the transition they so badly need.

I saw the South African president in Norway with the Queen not so long ago. You looked very happy to be visiting Norway although you did not have as huge an entourage as you normally have at home. I urge you to reach out to some countries and ask about this possibility. I am not saying that local police should all lose their jobs, No. I am saying that they need urgent intervention and training from a totally different land. I am saying that your police force needs to take refresher courses outside home. Maybe we have closed ourselves in for too long to our detriment. I am sure there are some African countries with whom you can discuss this possibility. Radical problems call for radical measures. I may be wrong on the solution but your people will tell you. What I am sure I am not wrong about is that your people should not be always relegated to the streets singing and asking only why. Take action! Accord us the dignity Africa deserves.

I wish you well. Send my greetings to Mandela. Change things so that he can smile.

Yours sincerely

Philo Ikonya
Violence is not food, we cannot live on it- PI

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