Mmegi Online :: Who polices the police?
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Thursday 22 March 2018, 14:16 pm.
Who polices the police?

Local police are clearly not leading from the front in terms of the behaviour change required to reduce fatalities and injuries on the country’s roads.
By Mmegi Editor Thu 16 Feb 2017, 11:07 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Who polices the police?

Yesterday, the Defence, Justice and Security minister, Shaw Kgathi revealed that 414 police vehicles were involved in accidents in 2016, costing taxpayers up to P1.5 million in repairs.

According to our records, in 2015, 441 such accidents were recorded with 22 officers charged, up from 376 in 2014 in which police drivers were charged in 133 cases.

These statistics will come as no shock to road users who have become accustomed to the reckless, devil-may-care attitude many police officers display behind the wheel.

Many police drivers are a law unto themselves on the roads, holding themselves to an authority unknown by the rest of the motoring public.  The situation gets worse on the highways, where police are clearly more equal than others, breaking traffic laws with seeming impunity and a brazenness rarely seen outside of action movies.

It is not in doubt that by the nature of their job, police do occupy a rank of priority in the pyramid of road users. Often they have to rush to attend to incidents and accidents and at other times, they transport dangerous criminals to and from court appearances. To this end, police vehicles are often equipped with sirens that alert other motorists to give way. Be that as it may, however, many of these accidents take place in situations where there is no emergency and are as a result of reckless driving by an officer labouring under the view


that they are superior to other motorists and traffic rules.

As noted by Kgathi, the custodians of the law are now the ones violating them. The 414 accidents recorded in 2016, according to the Minister, were preventable, suggesting recklessness on the part of the officer driving. Besides their arrogant attitude, it is evident that many police officers behave the way they do because they do not directly feel the impact of the loss of vehicles as a result of reckless driving. As is so often the case, Government assets are abused and the miscreants get away with filing a report that is never reviewed. The taxpayers are the ones stuck with the bill at the end of the day, paying either directly or by foregoing other services and enhancements in law enforcement.

Kgathi says the Police Commissioner, permanent secretary and the Minister are accountable for the accidents ultimately to Cabinet and Parliament, but officers and their supervisors should be made accountable too, especially where evidence points to a highly preventable accident. In the era of declining Government revenues, cost-recovery should not only be about Batswana paying more for Government services, but also civil servants being more responsible and wise with the little resources we have.

Today’s thought

“This must come to an end. Otherwise, why are you in the business of policing when you are the ones who need to be policed?” 

–  Shaw Kgathi

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