Crime: Don’t look away
Two decades ago, Parliament adopted the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1997 in response to desperation from a public beset by a crime-wave threat to our nascent democracy. The death penalty had been abolished in the adoption of a constitution that guaranteed a right to life. Apartheid had been conquered, only for our society to be undermined by another, stubborn evil.
This has been a great week for the fight against crime and, in particular crimes against women and children. It was also one in which the minimum sentence regime prevailed.
Oscar Pistorius had his sentence for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp doubled when the Supreme Court of Appeals handed him the minimum of 15 years – minus time already served. Christopher Panayiotou received the minimum sentence of life imprisonment for the premeditated murder of his wife, Jayde.
While our prisons are overflowing, South Africa is far from free of crime. Instead our country continues to top the charts for murder, robbery and rape as well as gender-based violent offences.
Clearly, more needs to be done beyond coming up with legislation such as the minimum sentences law adopted two decades ago. Harsh punishments by the courts do not seem to be enough.
We all have to fight crime in all its forms and with all our might. Hence the need for all of us to play our part in the campaign,which resumed yesterday around the world – the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
Independent Media’s campaign theme this year is “Don’t Look Away”. Women like Steenkamp and Panayiotou could have been saved from violent death if people had stopped looking away and minding only their own business.
The 16 Days of Activism is a good reminder to all of us to redouble our efforts to rid our country and the world of the scourge of violence against women and children as well as other vulnerable groups.
Don’t look away. Help make this world a better, safer place for all.