We were told last week that more than 20 000 people had been arrested so far for breaking the Covid-19 regulations. The number has probably grown considerably since then.
Police Minister Cele reminded us all that having a criminal record was not a burden to be born lightly. For the rest of your life you could be denied the chance of finding employment because: “I wouldn’t trust him. I see he has a criminal record.”
Our country already has an over-supply of people with criminal records — thieves, rapists, child molesters, wife-beaters and murderers — they walk among us.
Now we have Covid-19 criminals as well. Shock, horror! We share pavement space with criminals who blatantly forgot their masks in the car when they went shopping, or were found to have an illegal bottle of wine on the back seat of their car. Or went walking on a beach.
Criminals, the lot of them.
This sudden upsurge in the country’s criminal population could have an interesting effect on the way we regard crooks and criminals in general.
Most of us have, at some stage, received a parking ticket for stopping in a loading bay or paid a fine for driving at 70km/h through a 60km/h speed trap. Those little events are just part of urban life. We don’t regard the as crimes.
I wonder whether our thousands of new Covid-19 criminals, and those who know them, will come to regard a 2021 criminal record with the flippancy we give to parking tickets.
“A criminal record? Oh it means nothing, it was issued during that Covid-19 thing.”
At the same time there are real criminals among us, with records of assault, gender-based violence, child abuse and armed robbery.
“Oh, it happened in 2021. It was probably just a minor thing. Practically everybody has a 2021 criminal record. Some of my best friends are criminals.”
Maybe not wearing a mask in public should earn a traffic fine.
A small boy went into a cafe and asked for a Mars bar. He took it, looked at it and said he’d like to change it for a Kit Kat.
He then took the Kit Kat and walked out.
The shopkeeper called after him: “Hey, sonny, you didn’t pay for that Kit Kat.”
“No,” said the lad, “but I swopped the Mars bar for it.”
“You didn’t pay for the Mars bar.”
“Why should I pay for the Mars bar? I didn’t take it.”
* “Tavern of the Seas” is a column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.