by Pamela Maringa

Recently I read an article about a police officer who was arrested for drug smuggling in Brazil. The story has been trending and making headlines in many newspapers. It’s not surprising that you would find stories like this on the news. What was extra- ordinary about this one was that it wasn’t just another police officer. This police officer happened to be a very good friend of mine from high school.

You can imagine the shock; I shared the story on social media and there were many comments. Many where shaming her, while many felt sorry for her as they realised the kind of trouble she might have put herself in. Some were her colleagues who shared stories of how female police officers are targeted by the foreign nationals. They said sometimes foreigners get into relationships with local police, which means that they are protected from prosecution.

What causes this? Are police officers paid enough or they are just greedy? What about the oath they took to protect the country? We have officers who are taking advantage of the powers that they are entrusted with. Why did my friend go as far as Brazil to smuggle drugs into our country, drugs that could ruin many people’s lives?

According to The Guardian, over 1,448 police officers were convicted for serious crimes – ranging from murder and attempted murder to rape, assault, corruption, theft, robbery, house breaking, domestic violence, aiding in escapes and drug trafficking. This report shows that there is a serious problem within the South African Police service (SAPS). Today this number have gone incredibly high and crimes within SAPS seem to have gotten out of hand.

One of the problems facing our country at the moment is that the country is being used as a playground for criminals. There is more corruption and illegal dealings facilitated by officers today that it’s ever been in the past.  It looks like money has become more important than people’s safety. If those in a position to protect us as the nation, “police officers”, are compromised because of their love for money, then what are the chances of the criminals being arrested and prosecuted?

In 2010 former Police Minister, Bheki Cele, told a parliamentary committee that the number of serving police had increased during the preparations for 2010 World Cup. He said the rush to get new recruits meant police had to “sacrifice quality for quantity”. Then acting Deputy National Commissioner for Human Resources, Lieutenant–General Nkrumah Mazibuko, admitted that there were cases where recruits bypassed reference checks and fingerprinting. They had used other people to substitute for them during the fingerprinting process

How do we begin to clean our country from crime, when crime starts within the SAPS? It is clear that there should be a new and uncompromised strategy for recruiting new police officers. Those who are already in the police service should be constantly reviewed and investigated if necessary. If they are found guilty of crimes they should be arrested because they are a danger to the country.

My friend too has to be investigated. If she’s found guilty she should be punished for her actions. Many will learn from her, because they enter the police force with motives other than to serving the country.

At home we will be keeping her in our prayers as she goes through this difficult stage of her life. We pray that she has the strength to endure it all, till the day when she will return.

A compromised security is a compromised country.