Spare us the crocodile tears about drug mule’s ‘unfair sentence’
THIS week 35-year-old SA drug trafficker Janice Linden was executed in China by lethal injection. That China should dare apply its own laws on its own territory has unleashed in SA a whirlwind of misplaced outrage and platitudinous sanctimony.
The IFP termed the execution “unfortunate” – which it undoubtedly was for Linden – while the DA railed against her “unfair” sentence and attributed her death to a “failure of diplomatic pressure” due to SA’S “human- rights blind spot” where China is concerned.
What bollocks. The SA government did as much as it could be expected to do.
The pronouncement abroad of the death sentence on any nation’s citizens always unspools the same wellpractised home-town tango.
The steps are unvarying, whatever the nationality of the death-row prisoner. First, the local media pillories the foreigners and contrasts unfavourably their barbaric ways to the virtuous home justice system.
Then the home government issues a throat-catching plea for clemency that it fully expects will be ignored, which it invariably is. Finally, the remains are repatriated, to be interned as though they were those of a saint rather than a criminal.
It is certainly true that SA is overly sensitive to offending China. Witness the contortions to prevent a private visit by the Dalai Lama.
But it is disingenuous to argue, as do the DA and the SA Human Rights Commission, that a sovereign nation’s imposition of the death penalty on an SA citizen, after an unchallenged due process, is an international human-rights issue.
The death penalty exists in some criminal codes, a harsh punishment some may frown on, but it is perfectly legal in international law.
Since it is likely to be around for a while yet, it is best avoided by refraining from criminal stupidity when travelling to countries as diverse as Thailand, Japan and Botswana.
China annually executes more than 4 000 people, more than the rest of the world combined.
It is particularly harsh on drug trafficking, one of 55 crimes that can draw the death penalty, something anyone travelling to China has to be comatose not to be aware of.
That drug runners are undeterred testifies to the accuracy of the description “mules”. One has to be intractably perverse – or in desperate straits and terminally naive – to travel, as Linden did, to China with 3kg of crystal methamphetamine in one’s luggage, 60 times the threshold for a death sentence.
And let’s get real about her protestations of innocence. On her first trip overseas, she chose a relatively obscure destination in southern China? Telling her family she was job hunting in Johannesburg? Come on!
It is undoubtedly tragic for Linden and her loved ones that a reckless gamble cost her her life, while those who put up the stakes are untouched.
Conceivably, had the SA mercy plea been accompanied by the arrest of Linden’s supplier, it might have succeeded.
However, detective work takes real effort, as opposed to just slinging a saddle on to our high horse.
After all, since SA no longer has the death penalty, Linden’s execution affords a rare opportunity to be- moan the supposed failings of another nation.
Unfortunately, SA’S morality is but skin deep and capital punishment has been abolished only in theory. In the past year 1 267 people died from police action or in police custody, while a recent Sunday Times investigation names officers in a police squad which allegedly guns down dangerous criminals.
This, the highest cop homicide rate in the world, doesn’t elicit much public disapproval locally nor does it bestir those ever-vigilant guardians of human rights, the DA.
So spare us the crocodile tears about Linden.
Jaundiced Eye returns on January 7.