Newspaper bungled story of police ‘incompetence’

On Wednesday, Beeld  ran a story about a police reservist who was shot three times by a robber at his Pretoria home, and claimed he had phoned the 10111 police emergency number three times without getting help. Turned out the real reason why the man couldn’t get help was that his girlfriend had phoned the wrong number – not once, but three times, as Beeld somewhat lamely revealed in its follow-up story today. Instead of dialling 10111, she dialled 082 911 and got through to the emergency call centre of her cell phone company.

The initial story made the police look very bad indeed:

De Jager described on Tuesday how he and his girlfriend, Karen Victor, had told their story about eight times on Friday night to operators at the 10111 call centre – without success.
“They once asked if Murrayfield was in Johannesburg.”
“Another time they said they didn’t understand the (priority) code (which denoted the priority of a complaint) which I gave them. Additionally, they couldn’t understand English or speak it properly… Situations like these would have a more positive result if the person at 10111 understood the information and could pass it on. It could mean a difference of 30 seconds which could lead to a suspect being apprehended or not.”

In fact, police established, the first call about the incident was received some time after the robbery, and police arrived at the scene within three minutes.

Is Beeld to blame for getting it wrong? The newspaper did ask for comment from the police for its first story, and received an assurance that the incident would be investigated. Perhaps the newspaper should have waited for the outcome of that investigation, but in the competitive news business this wasn’t really an option. (UPDATE: And of course, Beeld wanted to link the story to National Police Day, when a third of the force were on parade in Bloemfontein instead of on crimie-fighting duty.)

The story is revealing, though, about the attitude of the newspaper (and, by implication, of many of its readers) towards the police. They were prepared to accept, almost without question, a story of gross police incompetence. This is understandable, to a point: there is enough evidence of police incompetence to fuel such preconceptions. But as it turned out, the story revealed gross private sector incompetence – but that fact is nowhere highlighted in Beeld‘s follow-up. Why not question the ability of the Cell C emergency centre to cope with an emergency? The coverage fits neatly into the meta-narrative of state – bad; private sector – good.

PS. The linked stories are English translations of Beeld’s original Afrikaans, as published on


13 Responses to Newspaper bungled story of police ‘incompetence’

  1. slamdunk says:

    Interesting post. Similarly here, when the media gets a story incorrect, the wrong version appears on page 1 and the retraction is listed in small print later on page 15.

  2. Anthony Rawdon says:

    Lets hope you, my dear apologist for incompetence, never have to phone the “police” emergency dept. I have heard dozens of stories about how

    1) they dont answer or take a long time to do so

    2)they cannot speak either English or Afrikaans intelligibly and they keep wanting you to repeat the address and they keep getting it wrong…

    3)last, but not least, if you become in the least bit frustrated with their sheer incompetence, they call you a “racist” for ordering them around “like during apartheid” and hang up..!!!

    Can all these complainants be evil racists with an ulterior motive to bad-mouth the New improved!! South African police farce? I say no smoke without fire..!

    Try it, preferably when you receive your own home invasion, which you surely will soon..!

    • Robert Brand says:

      You have heard dozens of stories about police incompetence, Anthony? Beeld’s story suggests the opposite: the cops were there three minutes after someone phoned 10111…

  3. So the police claim they were on the scene within 3 minutes of hearing about the incident. Exactly how long after the incident was this? It must have been a long time – possibly many hours – otherwise why would the complainants report it to Beeld if they knew of their alleged “mistake”. Maybe they only came AFTER it was reported by Beeld?

    And yes I have heard dozens of stories of frightening police incompetence – and police brutality – the locking up of white people accused of trivialities overnight in cells full of hardened black criminals, where they are beaten up, buggered, or killed! Even the abduction and rape of female complainants. Most such incidents are quickly hushed-up, swept under the carpet, and “still being investigated” months or years after the event, until the story dies down or the report disappears and it can be dismissed as “unfounded racist allegations”.

    Thats assuming the story ever “lived” in the first place, as the great majority of black on white crime is only reported – if at all – in the Afrikaans media, which is of course full of whites with a “racist” agenda! Full circle Robert.

    But you carry on playing your 3 monkeys game as long as it appeases your government paymasters. But your days are numbered – one day soon you will be accused of “racism” too! Yes, the revolution will eventually come for and devour its own white apologists..!

    • Robert Brand says:

      Anthony, read the story: the police arrived 3 minutes after the first call was made to 1011. Unfortunately, due to the daftness of the victims, that call was only made three hours after the incident.

  4. So how would your wife/girlfriend have reacted if your house was invaded and you were shot 3 times? Would she have acted “daft”, or would she have been cool and collected like her erstwhile hero imagines himself to bahave in such a situation? No, she would probably have been “daft” and like this victim, she would have hit the emergency number on her cellphone which (never having had cause to use it before) she no doubt assumed to be the police emergency number or at least an equally “efficient” option.

    Anyway, lets assume you´re correct and 10111 acted promptly in this instance. But isn´t the way this story has been played out by you, a red-herring? Does it not concern you just a teensy bit that cellphone emergency number switchboards might be suffering from the same AA-derived incompetence as the police switchboard, at least anecdotally or according to daft and worthless “racists” like myself and the victims in this case?

    Anyway Robert, if you´ll excuse the pun, I think I´ve at least got your number! Having implied that the victims are “racists”, you then add insult to injury by pronouncing them as “daft”. Robert Brand, the “anti-racist” sitting judgmentally in his academic ivory tower, has self-righteously judged all “racists” to be “daft” and all “daft” people (assuming they be white) to be racist!! Is this not the essence of the message you are delivering?

  5. Robert Brand says:

    No Anthony, that is not the essence of my message. Calling a specific person daft is not at all the same as calling an entire race of people daft. Your logic is daft, to say the least.

  6. Now you´re putting words into my mouth that I never said. Anyway, for the record I would never judge all the members of a race as “daft”, even delusional white “liberals” if they are a race apart, which I often think they are.

    However just for the record – if Prof Lynns figures are anywhere near correct and African blacks have an average IQ of 70 – to which the evidence of their dissidence and complete lack of achievement would seem to offer very strong support – then probably 90% of them would be “daft”. Why take the risk?

  7. Obviously their ability to reason and to think clearly and plan ahead among other things. I mean what % (if any) of scientists, engineers, brain surgeons, composers, specialists of all types, etc, etc, do we have from the (allegedly) previously disadvantaged, but now undeniably (AA,BEE, etc) overly-advantaged black proteges?

    Now please mantra along with me …”IQ tests are culturally disadvantaged”.
    Go ahead – make my day!

    Dont think I dont see your devious strategy Robert – you know you cannot seriously debate this issue – but so as not to make it look too obvious you string me along with one-liners hoping I will go away. Questions instead of answers.

    You are the one who is supposedly an academic – why are you afraid Robert?

  8. alpha beta says:

    @ Anthony Rawdon
    You raise an interesting point.

    Between 1990 and 1994 when the ANC was preparing to take over the reigns of power in the RSA, I recall seeing Mandela making a speech on UK TV extolling the “wealth of talent that was in ANC ranks.” Maybe I have missed something, but in the last 16 years I have seen very little evidence in civil administration in the RSA to substantiate that claim,

    I decided to research this topic a bit further and came across this excellent resource:

    On this site you will find 5 highly detailed charts which create a time line of global black history from AD43 until AD2008.

    All the main figures in black history are listed here. They comprise: anti-slave agitator, pioneering nurse, 1st Black in British politics, trumpeter, man of letters, freedom fighter, military General, writers, fighter for universal sufferage, liberator of enslaved peoples, abolitionist, orator, actors, singers, political activists, civil rights campaigner, civil rights leader, liberation musician (Bob Marley), writer & historian, boxer & political activist (Muhammed Ali), great African leader (Mandela) and politician (Obama). Shaka Zulu and Isandhlwane are also listed but not the millions killed by the Mfecane initiated by Shaka. Also not mentioned are the many black entertainers and athletes/sports people that have excelled since WWII.

    What I found extremely interesting is that there was only one entry for an inventor.
    Garrett Morgan, an African-American, who between 1914 & 1918 developed a gas mask prototype, and in 1922 patented the fore runner of the modern automatic traffic light (robot)

    So it would seem that thus far all black effort has gone into shaking off the yoke of oppression, playing music and excelling in sport. Perhaps the African Rennaisance that Mbeki spoke of so frequently is just around the corner,

    Maybe the ANC could set the pace in South Africa by maintaining a consistent electricity supply, provide safe drinking water, maintain municipal sewage systems, repair potholes, fight crime and generally deliver non corrupt 3 tier government as is unfortunately the case in the rest of Africa and Haiti.

  9. @alpha beta

    Agreed, and if you were to look more closely into these “black inventions” you would find the claims are either spurious or the inventions are very trivial in some way or another.

    Nobel Prizes are another interesting topic. I may be wrong but I dont think a black has ever been awarded one of the various scientific categories. Which is somewhat surprising, as there must be enormous political pressure on the awards committee to confirm that blacks are “equally capable” at science as Euros and Asians.

    However, and no doubt intended as compensation, they have awarded at least one Literature Prize to a black African. But, like Art, literature is often used (or abused) for political ends. Ditto, only more so, applies to the Peace Prize, awarded to several Africans, which has become a meaningless token of Political Correctness, viz Obama´s award for merely having “intentions” to bring peace. The cynics know the real reason – it was for “ridding the world” of the evil whitey warmonger George Bush.

  10. alpha beta says:

    The Guardian Black History Time Line records a black Kenyan women with the distinction of being the first black female to receive a Noble Prize in a “non-political” field (i.e. peace prize etc) She was recognised for her contributions and achievements in conservation.

    And let us never forget that the Nobel Prizes are a huge smokescreen to buy respectability by the dynasty that gave the world dynamite which has probably resulted in more human carnage and death than any other invention before or since.

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