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Crossing The Line Between Law Enforcement and Abuse of Power?

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Article by Khanyi Moshia

It’s been a daunting few days since President, Cyril Ramaphosa announced the pertinent decision to lock down the country, in an attempt to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. During his address to the Nation, last week, he announced that the South African National Defense Force would, under the Disaster Management Act of 2002 be commissioned to assist the countries law enforcement with ensuring that citizens are abiding to the rules of the lockdown as set out in his address .

The decision to commission SANDF has been met with an influx of emotion and different reactions. Many civilians took to social media to either commend the manner in which law enforcement is facilitating the enforcement of the lockdown rules and their method of keeping the streets clean. As others saw this as an opportunity to express their feelings of disgust in the view that they are abusing their power at a time where the country sees them holding the responsibility to calm the situation and ensure that everyone feels protected. 

From the inception of the official lockdown, videos of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) have been trending on social media, especially in townships like Alexandra – where loitering residents are seeing doing frog jumps, rolling on the floor or doing squats at the instruction of the SANDF officials. 

Many citizens have expressed that they believe that this is as a result of individuals being defiant to the President’s call for the lockdown. We were also met with statements from residents of townships such as Alexandra, expressing that they do not see the point of the President permitting citizens to attain essential goods if they will be treated like lower class citizens in their attempt to purchase the essentials that they will need in order to survive the lockdown. The confusion and fear emerges with when the receive punishment from the law enforcers for being outside in the process of getting essentials.

These videos have left a bitter taste in a lot of people’s mouths as they feel that the SANDF is abusing its power in townships because they’re not giving people living in suburbs the same “punishments”.

The SANDF has succeeded in a lot of peace-making missions across the globe, but did they get the wrong memo – as they’re seen on different footages sjamboking homeless people in Hillbrow, brutalising civilians, and using a water cannon on shoppers. 

We’re interested to know your thoughts on this. Are law enforcers  executing their mission well, or are they abusing their power? Share your thoughts with us. 

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Tags: #Coronavirus #Covid19 #Lockdown #SANDF

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