Pistorius case reveals bizar SA

The trial of Oscar Pistorius is extraordinary in itself;
there is something very dark at the heart of this case.
But it is also extraordinary for what it is revealing, in
unintended ways, about the heart of South Africa
today.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the detective
who was supposed to be leading the inquiry is to
appear in court in May for attempted murder . It is
alleged that two years ago, Detective Hilton Botha,
while drunk, fired from a police vehicle at a minibus
taxi full of black passengers. This kind of thing was a
popular recreation for drunk, white policemen during
the apartheid years. The case against Detective Botha
was dropped, but has now been reopened, presumably
because of the potential PR disaster.
Botha also suggested that a row between Pistorius and
his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was overheard by
witnesses. After questioning, he agreed that one of
them was half a kilometre from Pistorius’s house.
Botha has also admitted to not wearing protective
clothing when entering the crime scene, and he
announced, without forensic evidence, that Pistorius
had testosterone in his house. It seems the drugs in
question may have been harmless herbal remedies.
None of this comes as a surprise. The police in South
Africa are notoriously incompetent, corrupt and poorly
trained . Many of them barely speak English, and to
watch an officer filling in a crime sheet, as I did
recently, is to understand the notion of eternity. Only
one in 50 hijackings lead to a conviction. Most
murders go unsolved and the crimes and
misdemeanours of the ANC upper echelons are ignored
unless the press becomes involved.
There has been appalling corruption at the very
highest: Jackie Selebi, the chief of police, was in
cahoots with a gangster. Before his appointment, he
had been head of the ANC Youth League. For years, he
was protected by senior figures in the Mbeki
government, although he was finally convicted in 2011
after sustained pressure from newspapers; predictably,
he was released a year later on medical grounds: no
comrade in the struggle must linger in jail. It is one of
the redeeming features of South Africa that the press is
free, if not always fearless. But even this freedom is
under threat from new legislation. Nadine Gordimer,
long-time ANC groupie, told me recently just how
disillusioned she is.
It was reported that two representatives of the ANC
Women’s League attended day one of the Pistorius
trial; they sat on the bench next to the Pistorius family.
One of them, Sally Nkosi Peterson, delivered her
verdict. She said that Pistorius should be crushed by
the “iron fist” of justice. This speaks eloquently of the
ANC’s view of itself as more important than the law or
the legal process; it’s not a political party, but a
movement, peopled by “cadres” and “comrades”. Or
perhaps it just indicates a profound ignorance of the
notion of the rule of law, a failing shared with
President Jacob Zuma. The most notorious member of
the Women’s League was Winnie Mandela, who in
1989 escaped jail with the help of friends in high places
for involvement in the kidnap of a 14-year-old boy,
Stompie Moeketsi.
What has happened in South Africa over the past 20
years is a tragedy. In South Africa, there are very few
people who believe any longer in the prospect of a
decent and fair society under the ANC. As Desmond
Tutu put it, the ANC leadership stopped the gravy train
only long enough to jump aboard . The whole notion of
a rainbow nation now seems hollow, even derisory.
The truth is the ANC under Jacob Zuma is in tatters. If it
is seriously challenged in an election by a coalition of
opposition, the danger is that the ANC might turn racist
and accuse white people of non-cooperation and
exploitation. The Zimbabwean model, which would
follow, had the fervent support of Julius Malema, once
head of the ANC Youth League, now expelled from the
ANC. He is the proud owner – it is reported – of five
BMWs allegedly paid for by cronies for whom it is said
he secured government contracts. Some years ago,
Francis Fukuyama suggested that the biggest danger
for South Africa would be white flight, both of capital
and of educated people. It is happening.
Some serious commentators are talking of a failed
state. The characteristics of a failed state are a
complete lack of revenue collection, a lack of
protection for citizens, a breakdown of civil society
and its institutions, rampant corruption and an
inability to pay international debts. Despite everything,
South Africa is a long way from failure on these
criteria. But there are alarming signs of decay.
The education system is failing – although it is
significantly better in the Western Cape than in other
provinces. The fact that the Cape is the only province it
does not rule is difficult for the ANC to accept: there is
still a pervasive sense that, because of its role in the
nearly mythical “struggle”, it has the divine right to run
everything, to control every quango, appoint every
judge, to share out all the well-paid jobs, to ignore the
constitution when it suits its purposes, and to use the
organs of state for personal advantage. In the
meantime, the gap between the rich and the poor
grows and crime is widespread. Because of the list
form of proportional representation, none of the MPs is
responsible to anyone except the leadership.
Perhaps our expectations of the Mandela era were
naive. Perhaps the legacy of apartheid was
underestimated; perhaps the idea of a non-racial and
fair society was not a real prospect; perhaps a
reasonable education for all was never possible. But
these failings are made far worse by the government of
Jacob Zuma, a man who appears to be in the process of
reinventing himself as a Zulu chief, complete with a
leopardskin cloak that includes the flattened head of
the leopard, irresistibly suggesting road kill. Financed
by the state and supplemented by loans from
questionable businessmen, Zuma has spent a vast
amount of money fortifying and rebuilding his
ancestral home. He has 21 children to house.
In the countryside, not far from his mansions, live
some of the poorest of the rural poor. For me, born in
South Africa and ever hopeful, it is one of the greatest
disillusionments of the new South Africa that the ANC
should routinely use the terrible apartheid years to
justify or explain every breach of the law, every
incompetence and every snout in the trough.
So back to the trial of Pistorius, with all its bizarre
revelations. As it happens, I love being in South Africa:
it’s never dull.

Source: independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-pistorius-case-casts-a-lurid-light-on-a-corrupt-and-crimeridden-south-africa-8507013.html

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