DEMOCRATIC South Africa needs to decisively deal with the scourge of police brutality before the tables are turned and we witness scenes out of apartheid South Africa where townships become police no- go areas.
I have heard long-winded and complex suggestions for combating police brutality, such as changing the organisational culture of the SAPS to be more in line with our constitutional values.
That's a great approach if you want to see results a decade down the line.
But what about the dozens of South Africans who, unbeknown to them right now, are heading for a beating at the hands of corrupt cops this very weekend? The simplest solutions are always the most effective.
Installing vehicle-based surveillance systems in SAPS vehicles would cut police brutality in half – immediately.
Because we are indeed looking at a small minority of bad apples, on-board cameras offer the dual advantages of keeping the bad apples in check while protecting the good eggs we all value so much.
To illustrate, suspects have been known to injure themselves in the back of police vans in order to institute legal claims against the police.
Cameras in the holding areas of police vehicles would reduce malicious false damages claims.
On-board surveillance systems are also not only for watching events unfold, they can be used to summon assistance when linked to a central control room.
As for the cost of these cameras, simple logic suggests their installation would be a pittance compared to just one or two court-ordered payouts to victims of police brutality.
A quick YouTube search reveals that US police officers are still prone to criminal overreaction, even when their actions are being recorded by vehicle-mounted cameras.
However, at least camera footage makes prosecution of these bad apples more likely.
We saw this with the recent case of the Mozambican taxi driver in Daveyton. Footage recorded by members of the public, who witnessed the driver's maltreatment is likely to result in prosecutions.
The best argument for vehicle-mounted video cameras in SAPS vehicles recognises human nature.
Human beings are more likely to behave themselves when someone is watching.
When that someone is artificial intelligence capable of watching 24 hours a day without rest, the chances of human beings in positions of authority conducting themselves in a professional manner is magnified exponentially.
Philip Smerkovitz, Bryanston, Johannesburg