A VIC­TIM OF A BIAS CRIM­I­NAL JUS­TICE SYS­TEM

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - ZINGISA MKHUMA zingisa.mkhuma@inl.co.za

SO­CIAL me­dia went into over­drive this week as usual, with vi­su­als of a con­victed mur­derer and vic­tim of abuse, Martha Marumo, who pulled up her skirt in front of the au­di­ence, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, at the Na­tional Gen­der Sum­mit to show the hor­ri­ble scars in­flicted by the hus­band she killed.

Not a pretty sight, but that is pre­cisely the point that Marumo was try­ing to il­lus­trate – that women go through hell at the hands of abu­sive men. As much as the Gen­der Sum­mit this week was meant to high­light is­sues af­fect­ing women, espe­cially gen­der­based vi­o­lence in­clud­ing mur­ders and rapes, Marumo also shone a spot­light on the pa­role sys­tem that seems to have long been cor­rupted.

We have writ­ten sto­ries about pris­on­ers who were in the throes of death, suf­fer­ing from ter­mi­nal ill­nesses, and yet pa­role boards wouldn’t re­lease them to die at home.

Yet the fa­mous, po­lit­i­cally con­nected and those with deep pock­ets cheat the sys­tem and go free.

In my view Marumo, whose scars shocked ev­ery­one, ex­posed a crim­i­nal-jus­tice sys­tem that was not prowomen and pro-poor.

And Marumo is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of its bias. She bears scars from the abuse and vi­o­lence she en­dured at the hands of her hus­band but that don’t seem to war­rant her name be­ing on the list of in­mates who de­serve early re­lease from prison. Why?

I have a per­sonal in­ter­est in the mat­ter, be­cause the man who mur­dered my sis­ter in cold blood was re­cently granted pa­role with­out the in­put and in­volve­ment of our fam­ily, and even from mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who helped get him ar­rested and con­victed.

What is even worse is that when he shot and killed my sis­ter, he was on pa­role for other vi­o­lent crimes.

And now he has been paroled again, and none of my fam­ily or her chil­dren have been warned that he is out there. Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices says we should have been in­formed first, although we would not have been able to stop his re­lease, as the board made its de­ci­sion, it pointed out.

So who are these board mem­bers? Do they be­long to the so­ci­ety we live in? If peo­ple who mur­der in cold blood are freed with­out so much as a con­sid­er­a­tion for the safety and se­cu­rity of their vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, why not re­lease some­one like Marumo, who killed in self-de­fence?

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