by Jerzy-Popieluszko Z
“You have the emergence in human society, of this thing that’s called the State. What is the state? The State is this organized democracy; it is the police department, it is the army, the navy, it is the prison system, the courts and what have you!
This is the State.
It is a repressive organization; but the State says we’ve got to have police, because if there were no police, look at what you would be doing to yourselves. You would be killing each other if there were no police, but reality is the police become necessary in human society… only at that juncture in human society where there is a split, between those who have, and those who don’t have.” (Police State; 2000)
I am from a place where there is a long history of repression, ever since the nineteenth century; in the year 1948, Apartheid became the order of the day. Apartheid was a system that thrived off segregation and racism. Now, after a long time of repression, one ought to realize that this is not how life is supposed to be; the divide between the ‘haves and the have-nots’; and thus repression was met with rebellion, whether in the form of a riot, peaceful protest and or whatever means that were at hand.
Since I am still speaking on historical facts, let me focus on two historical events that happened in Azania (South Africa):
The Soweto Uprising in 1976, where scholars took to the streets and marched in Soweto, opposing to being taught their core subjects in Afrikaans under an education system known as ‘Bantu Education’. This march reached a boiling point and boom scholars were killed by the hands of the police who decided to meet stones and bin top shields with live ammunition and subsequently many school children died; including the famous Hector Peterson.
Bantubonke Biko, the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement; had his own peculiar relationship with the authorities. Biko had a plan to enlighten the Black people of Azania with a message of knowledge of Self and love for Self, in understanding their beauty as Black people and not falling into the abyss of inferiority but equal to all mankind if anything else; he was killed by the police while he was in police custody, in the spring of 1977.
Now, one thing must be clear, the former regime was one by white folks who had intended to repress Black people by any means necessary because of their superiority complex; therefore it is understandable why Black people had to endure all the atrocities of Apartheid. Would the peoples of this land endure anymore repression in a new dispensation? Azania became a democratic state in 1994 and has been one ever since, with six elections under her belt and five presidents to match that record. Now the government that took over the former regime was one of Black people, so, ideally, one would expect that there will be freedom, and repatriation for the formerly repressed?
Twenty years after the first democratic elections (2012); the country was assaulted by reports of police killing miners in a barrage of ammunition who were protesting peacefully at Marikana. Surely, anybody who had lived during the former regime will testify to having flashbacks of the former years when the police killed a gang of people, all the way back to the Sharpville Massacre, to the tension of the eighties when the streets in Black townships were saturated with police and military police.
In 2016, during the Fees Must Fall movement, numerous students were injured due to the force that the police used to subdue and jail students who were protesting for free tertiary education; which was promised to them by the newly elected government in 1994. It is safe to say that every generation of Black people in this country have experienced some kind of ill-treatment and or violation from the police.
It was relatively in the beginning of the year 2020, reports surfaced about COVID-19 being alive in China; my aunt asked me if we should be weary and I told her not to worry about anything because while China and Italy (respectively) were going through a lockdown, we were told to wash our hands (more often and for twenty seconds or more). So it was relative for me to think the way I thought; besides, in 2019 we saw the quick entry of listeriosis and it went as quick as it came.
Nevertheless, March 27 2020 was the first day of the lockdown. It came with so many restrictions, such as the freedom of movement as we were all commanded to stay indoors, to only come out when necessary; life as we knew it was a thing of the past. One could not enjoy a fag in the smoking section of an eatery as the sale of nicotine products was prohibited; and or even enjoy a night of carousing in Melville and or even enjoy emptying a cooler box with familiar company after a beer run with chums – as the sale of alcohol was also prohibited.
The sole purpose of the lockdown was to preserve lives (by limiting the number of infections), primarily.
Having said that, three weeks into the lockdown (April 10, 2020), a man from Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg, Collins Khosa, was beaten and subsequently succumbed to the beating handed to him by military police because there was a half empty glass of alcohol and a camping chair in his yard; it is alleged that the military police walked into his yard, inquired about the aforementioned items in the yard (deemed as contraband) and when they were given answers to the questions they were asking, things escalated and then the beating ensued and the man Collins Khosa died a few hours after the fact.
The Sunday Independent reported a week before Khosa’s death that eight people had been killed as a result of police brutality. These are sad narratives of Black people being killed in a Black state by Black police in a Black community;
my questions then are:
How do police become necessary in society and how do the police protect us when they are the ones doing the killing? How are they public servants when they are so incompetent, when they meet unarmed people with unwarranted force and violence? Can we not police ourselves better than them, when we meet the drug holes in our communities with our own ‘citizen’s justice’ because they will keep coming back to that same drug hole to get his weekly bribe? When we deal with a thief in our own way, to teach him a hard lesson he will never forget because they will book him tonight and release him tomorrow morning because he could afford the bribe?
The fact of the matter is that the police in this country are more of a threat than a sense of security, they are the enemy as opposed to an ally and more criminal than an extension of the law because they themselves abuse and refuse to respect the law, constitution and the people of my country and behave like they are the excrement that falls out of the president’s rectum.
words and photos by Jerzy-Popieluszko Z & Gert Cebisa, editing by kyle