EFF members marching to the offices of the South African Health Products Regulatory ity under the banner of 'March to Save Lives' demanding the Sputnik and Pfizer vaccine. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba
EFF members marching to the offices of the South African Health Products Regulatory ity under the banner of 'March to Save Lives' demanding the Sputnik and Pfizer vaccine. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba

If you needed any reminder that law enforcement in SA is in deep trouble, the spectacle of last week’s EFF gathering, and the Ace Magashule mobile fan unit, was a sobering confirmation.

In the case of the EFF, here was the very definition of a superspreader event: a regulation-busting, farcical "march to save lives", in which an estimated 2,000 people, not observing social distancing, took to Tshwane’s streets.

When contacted by the FM, the police cited the EFF’s "constitutional right to protest". Which is an interesting response, given that it was in clear violation of the lockdown regulations.

As for failing to intervene when it became clear just how illegal the gathering was, the police argued that they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t: that breaking up the protest could have turned violent, and intervention could spark accusations of brutality. So, surely it would have been simpler to prevent it happening in the first place?

In many ways, last week’s EFF march defines the police force’s inadequacies: insecure in its ability to protect the public, incapable of keeping control, and susceptible to the sway of political elites who operate under a different set of laws to the rest of SA.

If SA is a state ravaged by crime, it is because the police quite simply don’t know how to stop it.

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