We can do with some justice, Mr President

2012-05-19 13:53

Can you still remember when your fraud and corruption trial went on for three years?

Granted some of your supporters claimed that it had been going on for seven years – dating it back to that widely quoted statement: “We do have prima facie evidence, but we do not think that our case is winnable.”

Well, the truth is that the case itself was on and off the court roll for a little more than three years, with both the state and the defence responsible for the delay.

All the same, your supporters argued at the time that you were being persecuted. Nevertheless, it is not my intention to review that case.

I do accept that we had to move on and we have. You are no longer the former deputy state president. You are now the current state president.

It is your duty and privilege to appoint the minister of justice, the Chief Justice and many other key role players in the justice system.

However, it is sad to note that under your presidency, things have not got much better. Many a citizen is still subjected to “persecution”.

The wheels of justice are still turning as slowly as before.

May 14 marked five years since our daughter died of a bullet wound. A shot was fired into her head on the morning of May 12 and she died two days later.

She was 18 years old.

Notwithstanding the fact that there were several witnesses at the alleged scene of the shooting – including police officers who were on duty – justice is yet be served.

To date, only one and a half witnesses have been cross-examined.

In case you are wondering what half a witness is, the second witness is still under oath – more than a year from the day he first took the oath.

In spite of our best efforts, we are unable to find closure to this matter.

What is worse is that sometimes the case is postponed without a date for the next sitting.

In that case, it remains up to us to find out what the next date will be – when the state and defence have agreed on a date.

At the rate things are going, one wonders whether this case will be resolved in our life time. One wonders too if justice can still be served.

There is a great risk that witnesses may either be unavailable to testify or give (inadvertent) false testimony because of attrition. Either way, justice will be compromised.

This would imply that we would become victims all over again.

Naturally, ours is not an isolated case. The case of the Myaka family in Vryheid is another. In this case, Celukuphila Mlambo – who was 14 years old – was raped.

She, together with her mother, Bulawelani (prophetic name, if you ask me) Myaka, and her cousin were murdered on the eve of her rape trial. The trial was in 2007.

The accused in the rape trial was found guilty by the trial judge but acquitted by the appeals court. No one has been arrested for the three murders.

There are many other cases in which justice was either not served or not seen to be. However, statistics will only serve an academic purpose. I prefer to write to you about real cases, involving real victims.

So, Mr President, the next time you say, “much more still needs to be done”, remember that that is not just a refrain. Think about us and the thousands of victims of crime and the slow-moving wheels of justice.

We may not have hogged the headlines, but we still count. We are human beings.

We are citizens of the Republic of South Africa. We deserve the better life that is supposedly intended for all.

Those who know you personally, tell us you are a humane person. To use Chinua Achebe’s phrase: “You are a man of the people.”

I am looking forward to first-hand experience of your humaneness. Until then, good luck with your difficult task of running the country.

» Kunene is from Spruitview

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