VOICES


In his poem Time to Rise, Robert Louis Stevenson writes:

“A birdie with a yellow bill

Hoped upon the window sill,

Cocked his shining eye and said:

‘Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy-’ead’?”

When you read this, you would be forgiven to think this was a prophetic statement about the lacklustre attempts by South African law enforcers to arrest the relentless torching of trucks along the country’s highways.

It’s been more than five months since the attacks started and the SA Police Service and law enforcement agencies are still to bring culprits to book. It raises questions about our law enforcement agencies’ efficacy and effectiveness to counter these brazen and violent acts committed with impunity.

Are we the “sleepy heads” that Stevenson was referring to that cast a shadow on law and order? We are accustomed to violent protests for poor service delivery and the destruction of public property. We seem to have covertly embraced this practice as the country’s subculture, even though it casts doubt on the ability and capabilities of law enforcement agencies.

Could it be a manifestation of inherent “sickly” components of the law enforcement agencies, where the system’s custodians are not on top of their game? Or could it be that the perpetrators are way ahead in masterminding these brazen activities?

South Africa is not the only country prone to lapses in law enforcement. Yet, we have become accustomed to acts of violence nationwide. We have also deployed the same approaches with inconsequential dividends.

It cannot be South Africa’s subculture when social cohesion and the economic meltdown are the most challenging concerns for South Africans. The brazen torching of delivery trucks flies in the face of President ’s “Thuma Mina” call and casts doubt on our capabilities to enjoin the his notion of “shared will and shared responsibility – to build a society that knows neither privilege nor disadvantage”.

Yet, those with “power and privilege” to violence are hell-bent on derailing the country’s noble aspirations. Only when the “Thuma Mina” principle is evolutionary and has a life beyond mere electioneering, will it manifest in the professional discharge of responsibilities and timeous end of the brazen torching of trucks and the prosecution of perpetrators.

Regrettably, blame games regarding trucking companies’ preference of employing foreign nationals over citizens, do not offer lasting solutions. They muddy the labour sector waters and escalate tensions.

As William Ayers opined: “In a democracy we must be models of thoughtfulness and care; exemplars of problem-solving and decision-making.”

Read: Truck attacks increase paranoia

South Africa has great policies intended to guide employment and occupational relationships, yet the rapacity of the alleged policy debauchery by the trucking sector to undermine labour laws happens under designated stewardships.

Policies on their own do not bring success and compliance, it’s the designated stewards and stakeholders that nurture that success.

Robust and regular monitoring for compliance adds to the efficacy and effectiveness end goal.

We should take a leaf out of the African proverb which says: “If a tiny toe is hurting, the whole body bends to tend it.”

Our lacklustre approaches to “tend” irrational emotions and violent actions on our roads is a disdain on democracy and commitment to law and order. Irrational emotions are like the Hemlock, they paralyse clarity of thought and induce chaos and brazen disregard at the rule of law. It cannot be allowed to fester, decisive action is needed to affirm ordinance and deepen democracy.

Investing in law enforcement agencies

South Africa is not the only country prone to lapses in law enforcement. Yet, we have become accustomed to acts of violence nationwide. We have also deployed the same approaches with inconsequential dividends.

The gang violence in some Cape Town areas continues despite the deployment of the army as a deterrent. And soon, the army will be sent to patrol the highways to curb torching of trucks.

Will the deployment of soldiers bring success, this time around?

It’s unlikely as previous deployments confirm that nothing changed. Let’s rather invest in the law enforcement agencies to ensure that they are equipped with the latest methods and technologies on crime-busting.

Part of that endeavour should be exploiting existing “black” box analytics to refine crime prevention and policing strategies.

Nature often mimics humanity and therein lies the sophistry of squirrels. They embrace change, have excellent adaptability and exploratory skills, are master planners and communicators with an excellent memory to recall caches of nuts buried across the veld.

Brazen torching of delivery trucks undermines governance and the economy

In July this year, truck drivers gathered at City Deep truck stop in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, to protest against the employment of foreign nationals. Picture: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

Competition for limited food supplies has refined how they deploy their loot by creating bogus burial sites to confuse potential predators.

Similarly, we need law enforcement agencies with the utmost sophistry to outsmart the crime perpetrators.

High levels of professionalism and up skilling will contribute to service delivery efficacy and effectiveness. There are no short-cuts to law and order enforcement.

It’s a combination of what Dan Millman terms being “alert” and mastering “state of awareness” to “turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones”. We need law enforcement agencies steeped in the knowledge and sophistry of the sector so that they can unmask crime culprits and serve justice.

Increasing access to expeditious resolution mechanisms

Access in many guises remains South Africa’s post-apartheid challenge. It must be corrected, especially within the employment and labour sector.

Twenty-six years of democracy bequeathed a litany of policies with lopsided dividends, thus creating change fatigue trap. Transcending policy and structural symbolism about change may not be convincing to the public unless there is a demonstrable and robust mind shift to mitigate the business as usual trap, and eventually yield desired end goals.

Failure to manage policy implementations might lead to an assumptive trap, which shows that the presence of policies does not automatically imply service delivery efficacy and effectiveness.

South Africa has great policies intended to guide employment and occupational relationships, yet the rapacity of the alleged policy debauchery by the trucking sector to undermine labour laws happens under designated stewardships

Law enforcement agencies have a lot of policies yet we are still grappling with crime. Systems on their own have no capacity and capabilities to self-correct the “X-ray” snapshots of the “sickly” components of the system. It is the professionalism and expert capabilities by the system’s stewardship, personnel and stakeholders that bring efficacy and effectiveness.

We must be “alert” and “adaptable” to policy for optimal access and quick resolution of operational crises that might impact on economic growth and development.

Torching of trucks has negative implications on the economy

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival,” said Aristotle. He was affirming the ubiquitous notion about change and exigency for efficacious interventions.

The trucking sector and the lives of its drivers cannot be about “mere survival”. They both deserve better, given their cumulative contributions to the economy.

The Global Competitiveness Report acknowledges: “The quality and extensiveness of infrastructure networks significantly impact economic growth and income inequalities and poverty in a varied of ways.”

Lapses in the management of these key transportation nodes as evidenced by the brazen torching of trucks transporting goods and commodities hurts the already ailing economy, currently battered by the lockdown restrictions.

More disruptions will surely lead to the shedding of more jobs, escalation of prices to compensate incurred losses and the devastation of the lives of the indigent who benefit from the transportation of goods and services.

While the deployment of trucking surveillance patrols along highways is welcome, it’s not a lasting solution though. Rather it could constrain the economy through:

  • Spiking costs to mitigate operational costs and collateral damages likely to be incurred;
  • Compromising the safety of other road users not working in the trucking sector in the event of attacks; and
  • Delaying the inevitable – escalated moments of chaos and violence by those behind brazen torching of trucks as they escalate their offence.

Let us be swift to nip the challenge in the bud and institutionalise lasting solutions for the growth and development of the sector.

Lebusa Monyooe is a Pretoria resident. 


Brazen torching of delivery trucks undermines governance and the economy

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Brazen torching of delivery trucks undermines governance and the economy

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