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Army discipline will fix crime – NOT! January 31, 2007

Posted by Andreas in News, Politics, Society, South Africa.
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In a statement released by his department on Monday, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana suggested that compulsory military service could solve South Africa’s crime epidemic.

“The worrying trend whereby our youths are involved in the current spate of armed robberies and other related violent crimes that are ravaging our country could be reversed once they join the army.

[…]

Conscripting our young people would not only help inculcate discipline but make them understand better the importance of defending our hard-earned liberation.”

My first reaction: “You have got to be kidding me!”. But Andries Botha, the DA’s (official opposition (sic)) spokesperson on defence didn’t think it was such a bad idea provided it was done properly.

Gas Masks

All we need is some good old army discipline! (Graphic from the amazing Eric Drooker).

I was going to launch into a full broadside rant on how this has got to be one of the most ridiculous propositions I’ve heard in a long time, even from politicians.

I was going to point out how a number of the premises that this argument is based on are fataly flawed. The assumption that “youths” are the predominant perpetrators of crime.

The assumption that the army “inculcates discipline” [come on, have you ever talked to anyone who’s actually been in the army as a regular conscript? Although they were singing about education, the Madness song Baggy Trousers springs to mind:”All I learnt at school was how to bend not break the rules”].

The assumption that people who have experienced the kind of “discipline” the army peddles are less likely to commit crimes than those who have not.

The assumption that this army “discipline” would make “youths” appreciate and defend our hard-earned liberation [reminiscent of Stalin this, is it not…].

And so on and so on. I decided not to go on a major rant about this, because it all seemed so very obvious. What I am going to do is quote from an article by Karyn Maughan in this morning’s papers (curiously she does not make the connection between her own story and Mdladlana’s nonsense):

South African National Defence Force members are the accused in 287 serious criminal cases, recorded incidents of murder, shooting, assault and torture.

[…]

the most recent list of recorded criminal cases against army members includes 26 charges of murder, 22 of attempted murder, 15 of assault with grievous bodily harm, 25 of common assault, and 31 of reckless and negligent driving.

[…]

According to the Defence Department’s 2006 financial statements, the army is facing civil claims of R978-million, with motor accident claims amounting to an additional R3,7-million.

‘Nough said!

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