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In spite of the sombre mood of gloom and despair that is currently sweeping across and engulfing the whole country as a result of the senseless waves and spate of violent crimes committed with impunity by deranged criminals.

The clarion call by the head of the Judiciary - Justice Bheki Maphalala to his subordinates (judges and magistrates) to seriously consider and review issues of bail conditions accorded to suspects, should be given a resounding round of applause - and followed to the letter.

For once, we seem - in Chief Justice Maphalala - to finally have a visionary leader amongst the three arms of government, who seem to have the interest of the nation at heart, unlike some of his counterparts who are more interested in serving their avarice interests more than the interests of the nation they are on paper, supposed to serve.

For too long, the nation has decried, at times the insensitive manner callous perpetrators of violent crimes are and have been easily accorded bail conditions, and in the process, after release, continued where they left off, by committing even more violent crimes.
This has more often than not, resulted in aggrieved community members resorting to mob justice as a direct result of the lack of apparent justice. Society is tired of crime and of its devil inspired perpetrators.

Criminals are now more of a law unto themselves, instead of justice being a law unto criminals.
The judiciary’s at times bewildering and baffling stance of granting lax bail conditions to those offenders accused of gruesome and heinous crimes has often resulted in members of our society, in sheer frustration, taking the law into their own hands. We are all supposed to uphold the dictates of the law and mob justice has no place at all in the modern times that we live in.
Human nature is very complex and if justice is not seen to be done, the aggrieved party may resort to unleashing his own type of primitive justice.

I was appalled and perplexed to read of an alleged, negative response by an influential member of the legal fraternity, who seemingly didn’t take kindly to the chief Justice’s call. Offenders are, in the eyes of society, given the kid glove treatment when applying for bail and no wonder that on release, at the drop of a hat, like a dog, they return to their own vomit and commit more crimes. The CJ hit the nail on the head when he raised his concerns at the manner repeat offenders seem to enjoy spending time in correctional facilities by repeatedly committing crimes and going back to jail.

For some, it seems rehabilitation is seemingly not deterrent enough.
I am tempted to suggest throwing away the gaol keys for offenders engaged in serious and heinous crimes. Even though I have never done any time as a guest of the correctional facilities ( and would never dream of doing so even for a million dollars), I have my suspicions that correctional facilities are now more like those used by people on vacation. We have lost too many productive members of our society at the hands of criminals, who instead of being handed down very stiff sentences, are given light sentences and lucrative bail conditions.

As I write, one serial killer who allegedly murdered scores of innocent and defenceless women over decades ago, is living a cosy life of comfort behind bars, being fed by the taxes you and me toil so strenuously for on a daily bases.
Let us support the call by the CJ and rid our society and country of callous criminals who have no place at all in our civilised society.

Alex Nxumalo

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