Justice gets lost in a melee of incompetence

2013-04-07 10:00

I wish to be upfront. The criminal justice system in South Africa is functioning very well.

To me, Andries Tatane’s case is not the acid test to assess the performance of the entire criminal justice system.

It would be irresponsible of me to attack the criminal system because of this particular case.

I am moving from the premise that the minute legitimate state institutions are attacked in the world of public opinion, their credibility and effectiveness are eroded.

I wish us not to have a short memory about what happened to the National Prosecuting Authority.

It is still limping to date. The Public Protector’s office is also limping because of utterances that have the effect of challenging its image and dignity in the public eye.

To me, the issue with respect to Tatane’s case has to do more with the investigation and prosecution trade craft than the entire criminal justice system.

The investigating officers in this case dismally failed to collate watertight evidence against the policeman who allegedly killed Mr Tatane.

The court deals with the facts presented before it and in criminal matters these facts need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The trial is an exercise in the presentation of facts, the search for truth, and the finding of justice.

Failure by the investigation team to present a watertight case resulted in human rights values embodied in the Bill of Rights and social justice for Mr Tatane’s family being casualties.

The truth is lost in the melee.

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