So the country is outraged over a video that started circulating which shows Metro Police trying to arrest a toddler because he was playing outside. The metro police say they are looking into the matter, before adding that these were “peace officers”. Now, I’m not sure what that means exactly, by way of explanation. Arrested Development is one person’s perspective on a national disaster.
Lockdown seems to be exposing power dynamics in South Africa. All that is required to become a metro police officer is a matric certificate. Add to the mix the millions of disenfranchised South Africans, who are born on the very fringe of society and you have a sure fire recipe for disaster. Have you ever had an exchange with a metro cop at a roadblock or such?
I have extensive experience in this regard. But I have never encountered them abusing their power in this manner. I think it may be because, when I roll down my window, I always greet politely and call them “Officer”. I am also calm, with a friendly smile, often cracking a joke or two. That is the secret. Let them think that you think that they are in charge.
There are two sides to every story, and it will be interesting to see hear theirs. I should mention that the toddler in the video is classified as white, with all its perks and privileges. The metro police officers are black, with all its anguish and limited self actualisation. Another uncomfortable reality that may have informed this particular situation, is the fact that children are taught to disrespect elders based purely on race. One day at the washing line, a white kid spat at my husband and called him a k. The kid was about two or three years old.
This happened in Johannesburg circa 2018. This is mere conjecture, and I apologise in advance. But what if the toddler in today’s video disrespected the metro policemen in some way. Maybe they were doing their job of inspecting adherence to lockdown regulations. Perhaps the kid swore at them/spat at them/was rude to them in some way.
Their reaction, no matter the provocation, is reprehensible to say the least. It’s a child. They know only what they are taught. If their parents choose to teach them hatred, then we cannot blame them for acting on that information. I think I might be trying to make sense of the whole thing. But the key thing to remember is that we are dealing with sentient human beings here. Not uniforms. Or power. Or lockdown regulations.
In any event, it’s a story that will come to immortalise the lockdown. It will invite strong criticism. Heads will definitely roll. But when the dust settles, will either side evaluate the inner workings of their motivations? It remains to be seen. For more podcasts visit the Spudcaster page.
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