Steps to avoid the coroner’s fridge

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches -

IN THE lives of many, a defin­ing mo­ment ar­rives. It sneaks up be­cause you’re not ex­pect­ing it and don’t re­ally want it to oc­cur. That’s what hap­pened to the fam­i­lies of hi­jack­ing vic­tims Sa­dia Sukhraj and father-of-two Kelly Chetty.

You never know sor­row or pain un­til such a per­sonal en­counter oc­curs. If you are read­ing this, how would you feel now if Sukhraj had been your baby girl or Chetty your dot­ing dad or hus­band?

It seems the sanc­tity of hu­man life is no more. Ev­ery good­bye to your loved ones could be your last and ev­ery meal to­gether your last.

How can we live know­ing that when we leave for work in the morn­ing, we may never re­turn?

Re­cently a clip went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia when two parolees bragged about how they mur­der and rob for a liv­ing. They said if they didn’t get money they would put the baby in the mi­crowave oven and roast it or slice the wife’s throat.

This is to­day’s South Africa, be­sieged by hard-core crim­i­nals hold­ing the coun­try hostage.

These cal­lous killers rel­ish in­still­ing fear and men­ace. Pre­dictable larce­nies that feed a life of ad­dic­tion con­tinue un­abated. So, do farm mur­ders and pat­ri­cide.

Here I’m think­ing of Henry van Breda. What kind of beast will carve his fam­ily up like a hol­i­day roast?

With a gen­eral elec­tion com­ing up, it’s the sea­son for po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions. Hos­tels have be­come breed­ing grounds for death and cash-in-tran­sit heists have gained pop­u­lar­ity.

Vi­o­lent crime is now a part of our daily lives. About 19 000 peo­ple were mur­dered in South Africa be­tween April 2016 and April 2017. Our government is help­less, its si­lence deaf­en­ing. Our politi­cians con­tinue to dis­trib­ute mean­ing­less re­as­sur­ances, like cheap sweets at a chil­dren’s party.

The re­cent mass protest at the Chatsworth po­lice sta­tion played out like a mob of French peas­ants bay­ing for the blood of Marie An­toinette. It seems the will of the peo­ple was tested. No amount of tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets could kill the spirit of the crowd.

So what are the an­swers to our prob­lems? Should we in­crease our ef­forts at so­cial co­he­sion to foster racial har­mony? Should we re­vamp the po­lice force with in­cor­rupt­ible and ul­tra-com­pe­tent crime in­ves­ti­ga­tors?

Maybe we should en­gage a health­ier re­ward sys­tem for the vigilante pub­lic – a vi­tal source of in­for­ma­tion. How about a wa­ter­tight wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gramme with all the perks of a new life?

Bail and pa­role should never be granted to re­peat of­fend­ers. Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele re­cently openly lamented that a crim­i­nal ar­rested had been granted bail 41 times.

Maybe more power should be del­e­gated to pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pa­nies. Prem Balaram’s Rusa has the knack of ar­riv­ing at crime scenes be­fore the SAPS. The role of bona fide pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors should be recog­nised. Dur­ban’s Brad Nathanson seems to be achiev­ing much suc­cess in this field, of­ten where the po­lice have failed.

For­eign­ers seek­ing asy­lum and work here must be strin­gently vet­ted, in­clud­ing crim­i­nal pro­fil­ing.

Last but not least, bring back the death penalty for rape and mur­der. It would go a long way to­wards serv­ing as a de­ter­rent and would bring clo­sure to be­reaved fam­i­lies.

We all need to be vig­i­lant or we, too, could soon be cool­ing off in a coroner’s fridge.

Atul Gupta. The writer says the ju­di­ciary over­ruled pub­lic in­ter­est when the Gupta ac­counts were un­frozen.

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