The coward model of policing is aggressive towards weak petty criminals; namely the poor citizens in general and African men in particular. It is soft wealthy criminals, white collar criminals and syndicates that manage drug pushers, vehicle thieves, stock thieves and foot soldiers in criminal activities. The police behaviour is extremely embarrassing when it comes to respecting the constitutionally protected right of communities to protest. Corruption of selling dockets and using the uniform for selfish reason is another area which needs attention.
The courts have draconic management crisis. The business processes are ancient, inefficient and ineffective. The wealth of technocratic capital in this segment is unquestionable and unparalleled but bureaucratic component is non-existence. There is no real reason for the uncontrollable numbers of suspects awaiting trial. Unnecessary postponements and lack of preparedness by court officials is evidence of poor management. The lack of appreciation of citizen’s time reflects undesirable arrogance on the part of the system. There are many forecasting and scheduling methods and technologies to assist in planning and management.
In metropolitan areas courts should be operating twenty four hours a day instead of operating about four hours per day. There is no reason why courts are not operating during weekends. The use of information and security technology is very limited. The technical aspects of sentencing need to review as prison and cash fines are not the only possible forms of punishments available. The obsession with imprisonment as a form of punishment creates unnecessary overcrowding in prisons.
Lack of clean bedding and other necessities in awaiting trailists section is reflective of management collapse in prisons. Corruption is chronic from top management in this segment. Correctional service procurement irregularities are well documented in this regard. The availability of dagga in prisons confirms corrupt collaboration between prisoners and officers. Instead of rehabilitation, prisons have become training grounds for criminals. Criminals come out with sharpened skills. The high numbers of repeat offenders confirms the suspension that rehabilitation programmes are not successful.
The solution to crime does not lay in crazy sloganeering but it will come through serious architectural analysis and design. It is found in attending to social inequality, correcting the colonial legacy and ensuring equitable distribution of wealth. The crime rate could be dramatically reduced by improving recruitment, training, business processes, exploiting technology and sound management of the criminal justice system as whole.
By Sbusiso Xaba