Booze, cars and public officials …

What has been going on with public officials driving drunk lately?  In the first incident, Ekhurleni Metro Police Chief, Robert McBride was involved in a car accident and appeared to be drunk at the scene of the accident.  Soon after the accident his metro police arrived on the scene and instead of investigating a motor vehicle accident that happened to involve their boss (in which case they should probably have been even more diligent in their investigation), they harass and threatened witnesses and ushered McBride and items removed from his car away from the scene.  Oh, apparently the Ekhurleni Metro Police didn’t have jurisdiction over the scene of the accident, the Tshwane Metro Police did.

The second incident involved High Court Judge Nkola Motata, who drove his Jaguar through a wall in Hurlingham, in Johannesburg.  Judge Motata apparently resisted efforts by Johannesburg Metro Police to take him into custody and the officers on the scene had to call for backup to deal with him.  Judge Motata also apparently tried to leave the scene of the accident and was prevented from doing so by the owner of the property concerned.  He made no effort to hide the fact that he is a judge and in fact made a point of telling the owner of the property that he is a judge.

To make matters worse, Judge Motata denied allegations that he was drunk, that he drove through a wall.  The problem with his denials is that there are a number of recordings on the Sunday Times website where you can hear what went on.  A transcript of the recordings is also available for download and paints a pretty clear picture of what happened in the aftermath of the accident.

This month’s Noseweek has a shocking article titled "Reddam: Silence of the lambs" which shines a spotlight on yet another incident of teenagers beating up Andrew Merryweather who had the misfortune to be in their path.  These boys (who were named in the article) declared Merryweather to be a "poofter" because of his appearance.  One boy’s mother arrived to collect her son and his friends and remained in her car until the boys had piled in and sped away without showing any concern for Andrew.  The boys’ parents circled the wagons, as did school officials at the prestigious Reddam school.  Andrew was severely injured and is now wheelchair bound.

Each of these incidents is an example of people in positions of influence simply refusing to take responsibility for their behaviour or the behaviour of people under their supervision or protection.  How are people like you and me supposed to respect Metro Police who assault bystanders to protect a man who arguably endangered lives by driving drunk or a High Court judge who becomes openly abusive to a homeowner whose wall he apparently drove through, drunk?  What about the parents of the boys, and the boys themselves, who have irreparably changed a man’s life because he looked a little young and boyish for their liking?  And the schools that harbour these boys and boys like them who keep quiet when they should speak out against these atrocities?

When I was in law school, one of my lecturers told us that if you have enough money you can get away with pretty much anything.  Looks like he was right.

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