Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mmegi online comments on ex-South African Police chief: Southern Africa Needs Clean Police

Last week, the South African courts found former police chief, Jackie Selibe, guilty of corruption and dealing in illegal goods including drugs.

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Selibe was a leader at Interpol, a particularly important organ of the international policing network of nations that assists to fight crime in southern Africa.

The police chief was put away for 15 years and described by the presiding judge as 'an embarrassment'. He is believed to have been associated with dubious characters from whom he received favours in exchange for financial reward.

Shouldn't The Monitor enquire about the credentials that led the policemen of the region, and Botswana in particular, to give Selibe the leadership of Interpol in southern Africa? That might be pointless.

But that is not really the problem. The larger question lies here: "How clean are the leaders of the police in southern Africa?" How clean are they in Zimbabwe? How clean are they in Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and the Seychelles?

How clean are the folks who claim absence of criminal conduct, also proclaiming at every opportunity, their patriotism and commitment to safeguarding the resources of the nations where they serve? More bluntly: Can we trust the police?

It is difficult to trust the police in an environment in which corruption, street justice and criminalisation of innocent social activity become the main business of government.

When the law enforcement officers fall foul of the law, the citizens fear that the primary cause to which the police commit themselves - keeping the peace - is seriously compromised. Institutions like the police service are the last places that should be infiltrated by corruption.

For if it creeps in, the service becomes irrelevant. A corrupt police service will never deliver in its mandate.

The police are the custodians of security and safety of the community and if they allow themselves to become greedy and accept bribes, then we are all doomed because the big guys who write the big cheques will never be prosecuted even if they commit crimes.

We have every reason to suspect that South Africa's Jackie Selibe is not the only one among the cops in southern Africa who are bad eggs, even as we admit that we have not proved the guilt of any one of them.

Botswana needs a forensic test of the police force, especially its leaders. No harm should come of it.

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