n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Theoretical reflections on police behaviour, an expansion of reciprocal moral dualism

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


This article is based on the original conceptualisation of Reciprocal Moral Dualism that appeared in Internal Security (2011). The author has since expanded the original theory and these additions are contained in this article. The theory was developed from initial observations after two visits to Eastern Europe (Poland, Serbia and Macedonia) in 2009 and 2010. South Africa, as well as the former East Bloc countries, had an oppressive policing system, which comparatively speaking, changed to a community policing approach in the aftermath of their respective democratic political changes in the mid-1990s. As in Eastern Europe after democratisation, there has been an increase in crime, as well as a change in policing philosophy moving from an oppressive system to community policing. The initial government reaction to the high crime rates in South Africa was to deny that the problem was getting out of hand. While the crime debate was going on, there was also a political battle within the ruling African National Congress. After the African National Congress (ANC) Conference in 2007 held in Polokwane and the change in State presidents (Mbeki to Zuma) also brought tougher government rhetoric against crime from the Zuma camp. Public statements were made by politicians wherein criminals were referred to as "bastards" and "shoot the bastards". This article argues that police officers may misinterpret these statements and end up in abusing human rights. The article also argues for a new theoretical theory called "Reciprocal Moral Dualism", which suggests that society should prepare police officers for internalised (self-control) control and to develop a respect for human rights. What society provides in moral fibre, must be evidenced by good police officer behaviour and the police must not "desocialise" and "resocialise" the new recruits with conflicting morality and negative values. The paradox is obvious. If poorly socialised individuals join the police, the chances are that they will spread their inappropriate behaviour and corrupt others.

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