Personal identity, performance and deceit in the South African Police Service
Much of Judge Farlam’s report on the Marikina Commission of Inquiry reads like a list of lies and cover-ups by senior members of the South African Police Service (SAPS). In this presentation, I explore how these lies are part of an entrenched culture of deceit in the SAPS. Drawing on examples from recent ethnographic fieldwork I describe the types of misleading performances officers enact to ease performance pressure and satiate public scrutiny in their daily duties. In so doing I suggest that because the SAPS is often unable to achieve what is expected of it, and because of the general precarity of life for those employed by the SAPS, officers present façades of accomplishment to ward off organisational and public scrutiny. But because they constantly deceive, their performances contribute to their own suspicion and mistrust of the public and of each other, and so shape the way they do their work. Four trends in organisational deception are discussed: 1) Public performance lies, 2) Data lies, 3) Internal and External Lies, which lead to and are connected by a 4) Culture of suspicion. I suggest that the intersections between officers’ personal aspirations and their tendencies to deceive, contribute to the SAPS’ vulnerability to political abuse.
About the Presenter:
Andrew Faull is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology. He recently completed his doctorate on personal identity and police work at the University of Oxford, before which he was a Senior Researcher in the Crime and Justice Programme and the Institute for Security Studies. He is currently working on a book with the working title Accidental Police Officers: Personal identity, precarity and police work in South Africa