Bester saga gives a peek into the deep underworld that runs SA

One must join those who marvel at the intelligence and foxiness of Thabo Bester.  With a mere primary school education, Bester has managed to have the whole country wrapped around his little finger. You must wonder where he would have been if he had used his considerable skills in a positive way.

While some of his crimes are brutal and fatal, others such as the businesses he ran from prison, including addressing conferences from “the US” when he was, in fact, in a prison cell in Mangaung, are the very embodiment of sophistication and
finesse. He even had very important personalities in our society wishing him “happy birthday” in song.

He conned the entire criminal justice system, the property market, and the banking sector in his many escapades. In the process, he gave us an ample peep into the cesspit of criminality and sleaze that South Africa has become. And we should all be thoroughly alarmed.

You simply have to listen to parliamentary hearings in which ministers in the criminal justice system, prison officials and G4S – the private company that has  been given the rights to run one of two prisons in the country – are called to account to realise how much trouble we are in.

The contempt with which G4S holds the authority of the state, the hand-wring deference to the company by the government and the almost inexplicable tardiness on the part of the state in dealing with the Bester shenanigans give credence to talks that politically connected people are shareholders in G4S.

The Bester saga has enabled us to see a bit of the layers of criminality that run this country at every level and in different sectors of our lives. This explains in part why crime is out of control and the state seems incapable of taming it.

Whole rail tracks are stripped and carted away. Electricity pylons are felled by thieving thugs to the extent that large parts of the capital city of Tshwane are left in the dark for days.

What can we protect if we cannot secure the seat of government?

The so-called construction mafia has stopped construction at different sites through intimidation and actual harm to workers, but the state seems incapable of dealing with the problem.

It is time for the citizens of this country to stand up and ensure we do not descend into a mafia state.

Crooked as he might be, Bester has demonstrated how far the underworld has gone in running the country. The political leadership has either ceded its responsibility to criminal networks or is in cahoots with the crooks.

South Africa belongs to the citizens. It does not belong to political parties, their leaders, or public servants. They operate and serve at the behest of citizens. It is only a civilly educated citizenry that can bring the corruption and criminality to an end.

However, the South African citizenry seems to defer too much to political parties and their leaders, thereby allowing the tail to wag the dog.

Religious leaders, traditional leaders and civil society organisations in all their manifestations need to embark on a rigorous campaign to mobilise and educate the citizens of this country about their rights, obligation and the true powers they have in shaping the destiny of the country.

South Africa is the only country we have. We don’t have any other. If we don’t fight to keep it out of the hands of the crooks, we would descend further into a mafia or failed state.

Do we want to be another Somalia or Libya? Where will we run to if that came to pass?

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