DEBATE ON THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE MOTION
‘QUEST FOR A NEW CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM’

 


BY MB GWALA MPP
KWAZULU NATAL PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT

PIETERMARITZBURG: 7 JUNE 2007

Honourable Speaker,

The public anxiety about crime, so ubiquitous in KwaZulu Natal and South Africa, stems from the reality of crime itself as much as from the fear of crime and from the government's comprehensive denial of the problem. The people are anxious for a good reason: they think they play by the rules and they see too many people who do not, getting away with it. And those who express their fear are routinely dismissed as crime-whingers.

Nxa ngikhuluma ngalabobantu uHulumeni abazi kangcono njengabatetenyiswa ngubugebengu, ngiqonde abantu phaqa abathobela umthetho wezwe, abakholelwa ekuvuselelweni konembeza bezaphulamthetho kanye nasekujezisweni kwazo. Ngabantu laba abaqonda kahle kamhlophe ukuthi kunezimbangela ezijulileyo zobugebengu futhi abakuqondayo ukuthi kawukho uHulumeni ongaziqeda nya. Kepha lababantu bayakholelwa futhi yikuthi izinhlaka zombusazwe nezomthetho zakulelizwe kazishayi-khona; futhi baqinisile.

I would like to list some factors that bring us to where we find ourselves today - to a criminal justice system that needs to re-establish the public trust on which it will ultimately depend if it is to curb crime. If you cared to ask them, most South Africans would tell you that the criminal justice system, as we know it, primarily respects the rights of the accused. Very few would tell you that they are confident the system meets the needs of victims.

One suggestion is that our criminal justice system is obsolete. Geographical and social mobility have loosened the traditional ties of home and community.

The family structure has changed. The divorce rate increased rapidly. Single person households are now common. The demography has changed: the high-crime category of young men between 15 and 25 has expanded. The disciplines of informal control - imposed in the family and in schools - are less tight than they were.

Isimo sokuhleleka kwenhlalo yomphakathi ngokwendabuka kasisekho. Inhlonipho esimeni senhlalo yomphakathi seyehlile ngezinga. Izindlela zokusebenza seziguqukile. Abesifazane bazifumana sebesemisebenzini; akasekho futhi umuntu olindele ukubambelela emsebenzini owodwa impilo yakhe yonke. Isizwe esithuthukayo kakhulu siyisizwe esibiza intengo enkulu. Intuthuko yenyusa amathuba obugebengu futhi ibenza bukhange kakhulu. Intuthuko isho ukuthi iningi labantu linokuthile okunokwebiwa. Izidakamizwa zisho ukuthi iningi labantu bazimisele ukweba. Ubugebengu obuhleliweyo, obuthengisa ngabantu nezidakamizwa, benza imali.

Empeleni, okwenzekayo nje kungolunye uhlangothi olungumphumela womphakathi womhlaba ohlangeneyo nomhlaba oguqukayo. Isimo somndeni sesiguqukile.

Ukufuduka kwabantu ngobuningi kuyaqhubeka. Ngenxa yezinga nohlobo lwalezinguquko enhlalweni yomphakathi, izinselelo ezibhekene nohlelo lwezobulungiswa sezikhule kakhulu, ngendlela eyenza inhlekisa uhlelo olwakhelwe olwakhelwe esinye isikhathi sempilo - hayi nje elinye ishumi leminyaka elizayo.

Kepha isimilo esesekele umphakathi kasikapheli nya. Yingakho imithetho ephambene nokuziphatha budedengu seyiphephe sonke lesikhathi ngoba, ngokusobala nje, imi ohlangothini lokuziphatha okuyikho kweningi.

It deliberately echoes some of the moral categories - shame, for example - that were once enforced informally. There was, at the same time, something both comforting and oppressive about our old, traditional communities. But they were very effective at reproducing informal codes of conduct and order.

They contained a sense of fairness and honour, they promoted decency.

Any debate about a more responsive criminal justice system inevitably raises questions about liberty in the modern world.

Because we care about people's civil liberties, we have, traditionally, set our face against summary powers; against changing the burden of proof in fighting crime; against curbing any of the procedures and rights used by defence lawyers; the normal, full legal process.

But we often forget that each time someone is the victim of a violent or drug-related crime; each time an illegal immigrant enters the country or a perpetrator of organised fraud or crime walks free, someone else's liberties are contravened, often directly, sometimes as part of wider society.

Kungalesizathu thina ku-IFP sikholwa yikuthi sekuyisikhathi sokuhlela kabusha umthetho ukuze ugebele ngasohlangothini lweningi elinokuziphatha, elithobela umthetho nelicabanga ukuthi nabanye kumele benze njalo. Ngamanye amazwi, sidinga okujulileyo ukuhlelwa kabusha kohlelo lobulungiswa ukuze lugebele ngakulabo abayizisulu zobugebengu. Inqubo yomthetho nokuhleleka iyaqhubeka nokugxila emalungelweni abephul’ umthetho, ekuvikeleni abamsulwa nasekuqondeni izimbangela zobugebengu. Kusukela ngo1994, ingqikithi engukhiye yayoyonke imithetho yobugebengu bekuyikuvika ukwephulwa kobulungiswa. Kepha ngaso lesosikhathi, izigebengu ezingcole kunazozonke sezibe ngezihleleke nezinodlame ngaphezu kokunye.

The petty criminals are no longer the wrong-headed villains of old, but cold-blooded drug dealers and substance abusers without any residual moral sense. To boost their ranks, a society of different lifestyles spawned a group of young people who were brought up without parental discipline, led to revolt against anything and everything, without proper role models and without any sense of responsibility to others.

None of us want a return to old authoritarian prejudices. The danger is that we end up with rough justice, a danger even now when we use summary powers to close drug dens or seize the assets of suspects. It is exactly to guard against such danger that the rebalancing has to be done with the utmost care and scrutiny. But the harsh reality is that just as with rights, rough justice works both ways too. There is not rough justice but rough injustice when townships are terrorised by gangs and the system is not capable of protecting them.

What we and our people, most of whom are socially conservative, do want are rules, order and proper behaviour. We want a society of respect. We want a society of mutual responsibility. We want a community where the decent, hard-working and law-abiding majority are in charge. We want a society where those who play by the rules are rewarded and those who do not, are duly punished. Adding to the existing police service personnel or making cosmetic alterations to the criminal justice system will not bring about a moral revival which I believe is the prerequisite to a society of mutual respect.

Ngaso lesosikhathi sidinga ukuqinisa isandla ekulweni nobugebengu. Sidinga futhi ukuqinisa isandla ngokulinganayo mayelana nezimbangela zobugebengu.

I-IFP ikholwa ngokungazenzisiyo ukuthi umuntu onokuthile anakho emphakathini anethuba lokukufinyelela kukho, unethuba elikhulu lokuba yilungu lomphakathi eliziphethe ngokuyikho kunomuntu ongenalo ithuba elinjalo empilweni.

Kepha sidinga ukwethembeka nxa sicubungula izimbangela zobugebengu.

Sekunesikhathi eminye yemibutho yakithi yenkululeko isola ukweswela kwesikhathi esedlule njengembangela yobugebengu banamuhla obunodlame.

Limibutho ikholwa yikuthi umzabalazo wokulwa nobandlululo waba nomthelela ekwehliseni isibopho sokuziphatha kumuntu ngamunye. Ithi umutu angaba yisigebengu kepha akusilo iphutha lakhe. Lena yimpikiswano eyinkinga. Sithini ngezigidi zabantu abahlaselwa yikweswela ngeminyaka yeNdlala eNkulu yawo1930 kepha abangaphendukelanga ebugebengwini?

We need to redefine our criminal justice system as a public service. Its role is to protect the public by dispensing justice. Yet of all the public services, it is the one which, the more the public is in contact with it, the less satisfied they are with their experience. This is its innate complexity and we need to accept it for what it is.

For starters, the system needs to share information. It needs to capture and disseminate best practice. It needs to use different and new providers, for example from the voluntary sector in the compif offenders. It needs to give the victim a right to be heard in relation to sentencing. It needs to break down the "one size fits all" application of the law. All of these concerns should have a place in a modern judicial system fighting the modern reality of crime.

Ngokuqondene ngo, uhlelo ludinga umthetho ophoqa abehluleli ukuba bethule izigwebo emacaleni emuva nje kwezinyanga ezimbili vo emva kwecala. Ukuthithiza kanye nokuvilapha okusobala kwabanye abehluleli kuyingxenye yenkinga. Kumele futhi sidale izinhlaka zokuphenya ngaphakathi ohlelweni lwezobulungisa kanye nasemaphoyiseni, ukuze sinqande ukuduka kwamadokodo osekuyinsakavukela.

Isimo sibiza isibindi sokuguqula uhlelo lwasendulo lwezobulungiswa nolwenqubo yokuphathwa komphakathi ukuze inqwaba yamacala asuswe ezinkantolo kepha asetshenzwe kwezinye izihlaka, njengoba kwenzeka emazweni amaningi. Loluguquko lulodwa nje - ngesikhashana lungandisa inani lamajaji, amahora asezinkantolo nezinhlaka zobulungiswa – konke okunokusetshenziswa ukulwa nobugebengu nasesimeni sobulungiswa jikelele, ngaphandle kokubiza nencane intengo le embusweni. Eqinisweni, inkinga kayikho nje kuphela ohlangothini lwezobulungiswa, njengoba bungekho ubulungiswa nxa icala lezindaba zomphakathi kumele lithathe iminyaka emithathu ukuze lilethe ubulungiswa kuloyo osuke ehlukumezekile.

We will not achieve any of this by holding on to the past concepts. We can achieve all of this by recognising the reality of the modern world and the modern forces attacking the modern order of things. We need to recognise the changing nature of the world and the ferocity of the forces that shape it and we need to adjust to it. By reclaiming our criminal justice system, we will reclaim our streets, townships and suburbs for the law-abiding majority.

I thank you.

Contact: Blessed Gwala, 078 690 5777