Get tougher on ad­dicts

CAPE

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

A WORLD-class city re­quires world­class cit­i­zens. When the me­dia re­port on crimes where women and chil­dren are ripped apart, I al­ways won­der if those in ju­di­cial au­thor­ity are con­scious of the de­struc­tion gen­er­ated by vi­o­lent ad­dicts. When caught, crim­i­nals of­ten can­not ex­plain their be­hav­iour ex­cept to blame the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol and drugs.

Why our le­gal sys­tem in­sists on re­cy­cling se­ri­ously vi­o­lent ad­dicts is per­plex­ing. In­stead of re­mov­ing them per­ma­nently from so­ci­ety, the state re­cently al­lo­cated an­other R5.8 bil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ money to deal with prison gang cul­ture. In my view, the rise in vig­i­lante ac­tiv­ity and mob jus­tice oc­curs when peo­ple lose faith in the state’s abil­ity to pro­tect them.

In her book, The Watch­man’s Rat­tle, Rebecca Costa uses his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern ex­am­ples to de­scribe what hap­pens when com­plex­ity races ahead of the brain’s abil­ity to man­age it. She also fo­cuses on the un­der­ly­ing rea­son why ex­perts and gov­ern­ments can no longer fix con­flict. In my view, the replies to lo­cal prob­lems are an­a­lyt­i­cal, but con­tinue to be re­sisted for ne­far­i­ous and de­vi­ous pur­poses.

By re­mov­ing the death penalty, politi­cians have en­gaged so­ci­ety in a costly cy­cle of vi­o­lence. Iron­i­cally, hard-work­ing tax­pay­ers have to pay for the up­keep of those who seek to harm so­ci­ety, while the same cit­i­zens are kept in a per­pet­ual state of fear by the pres­ence of this evil.

Me­dia re­ports also sug­gest that the “es­tab­lished” le­gal fra­ter­nity is con­cerned about the qual­ity of grad­u­ates en­ter­ing the pro­fes­sion; can­di­dates ap­par­ently lack crit­i­cal think­ing among other skills. Though this may be true, it is ironic com­ing from a pro­fes­sion that sur­vives and thrives on lib­er­at­ing vi­o­lent crim­i­nals. While the right to a de­fence is con­sti­tu­tional, how many law firms help those who can­not pay? In my view the ideals of jus­tice are of­ten per­verted for ma­te­rial gain and pub­lic con­cerns are dis­re­garded. While hard-work­ing pros­e­cu­tors and de­tec­tives strug­gle to con­vict the guilty with sen­si­ble ev­i­dence, de­fence at­tor­neys prac­tise le­gal ac­ro­bat­ics to free crim­i­nals.

In our so­ci­ety, it seems as if drug and al­co­hol use has be­come a ra­tio­nal le­gal al­ibi and an ac­cept­able ex­cuse for un­fath­omable evil. Com­mon sense sug­gests that most ad­dicts are un­em­ploy­able and ex­ist off the pro­ceeds of crime. It is ac­cepted that ad­dicts cre­ate chaos, eco­nomic loss and have the abil­ity to de­stroy so­cial re­la­tions. For so­cial progress, I sug­gest crim­i­nal­is­ing the ac­tual addict for his/her ad­dic­tion to co­caine, tik, man­drax, heroin and so on.

Com­mu­ni­ties will be safer and the sup­ply chain will be chal­lenged. This city and prov­ince would save mil­lions oth­er­wise spent on van­dal­ism, theft, hos­pi­tal ex­penses, le­gal costs and the main­te­nance of an ex­pand­ing law en­force­ment net­work.

To sup­port this out­come, I en­cour­aged the safety and se­cu­rity port­fo­lio dur­ing the coun­cil bud­get ad­dress to re­search leg­is­la­tion to this ef­fect. The ob­jec­tive would be to per­ma­nently tag and mon­i­tor ha­bit­ual crim­i­nals, which would surely as­sist in curb­ing ram­part crime.

A world-class Cape Town re­quires lo­cals that are world-class cit­i­zens. Like the Ro­mans and Mayans, do we idly stand by and wit­ness the col­lapse of our par­tial free­doms. Can we en­vis­age a so­ci­ety free of vi­o­lent crim­i­nals?

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