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Sensational Murder Trials and What They Are Doing To US.

13 March 2014, 07:18

Why Do I (try) to Avoid S.A.’s Sensational Murder Media Machinations?

For a news junkie like me, trying to dodge all the latest twists of the most recent sensational murder trial is quite a task. I have settled for the inevitable load that comes with the news, but never deliberately watch a programme that zooms in on the latest ghoulish detail.  Last night, as I was watching the news I got a court scene packed to the brim with lawyers, a judge, media and public the same thought came to my mind as when I see Nkandla, “All this for one man?” A normal S.African can spend years in jail waiting for trial without even seeing a lawyer. So here starts my disillusionment.

Just recently a retired judge posted a very erudite blog, explaining that justice has to be seen to be done, i.e. that people must be able to follow and see justice-taking shape, to be able to accept that justice has actually been done. So far so good.

Without sounding banal, might I say that the thought of a young bride or a beauty icon with ambitions or an innocent child, being bumped off for God knows what reason, brings me to head-shaking sadness.  Even wayward husbands or older money-bags, who try to buy themselves another summer in the way of a much younger wife, and in the process get bumped off, because the price for the golden cage was simply too high a price, even these questionable men have my sympathy. Nobody but nobody deserves to be murdered.

The Germans have coined the word “Schaden-freude”. A rough equivalent in English would be a smirking satisfaction that someone who flew too high and has been now been brought down. “Schaden-freude” is a very human phenomenon indeed, but with the exception of crime writers and the media who earn a very good livings from this syndrome, it brings us very little, except a few moments of entertainment. (Believe me if a few leading ANC politicos would come to fall, my “Schaden-freude” would be enormous)

Carl Jung (1875-1961) a Swiss psychologist in dealing with the good and evil that exists in every one, is very nuanced. He   spoke of the “shadow and light” . Although there are people who have evil engraved in their DNA, e.g. psychopaths or sociopaths, who murder without qualm if they think that they can get away it, mostly if we look deeply enough, we will see that most evil crimes can be traced back to unfortunate childhoods, poverty, absent parents, rampant alcohol and unstructured upbringing. All these factors do not excuse a crime, but we should be taking these things into account if we want a better SA.

The law as is practiced in a courtroom, has to provide or consider a motive to arrive at a conviction. So in the usual course of events, one will hear that the motive was jealousy or greed or perhaps temporary insanity…………….. These are valid motives but I often ask myself, why did the shadow become so great that the perpetrator did what he/she did? How did that person grow up, where were the parents, in what kind of environment did this person live in? Was there any familial love; was there any sort of familial support?

I have heard, that one beautiful young woman, who carried out a viciously pre-meditated murder, grew up in a religious home where both parents were present.  So the obvious question is, what happened in that family so as to cause her “shadow” of jealousy and possessiveness to flare up to such a degree, that she could do something so terrible?

We know that poverty and crime go together like a “horse and carriage” but there are plenty of very impoverished people who do not kill, who do not steal.  

Murdered by arrangement is not uncommon in SA.  Where do these hired murderers come from? In what kind of landscape did they grow up in, was there any sort of father around?  In all the trials I have vaguely followed, I have never heard these kinds of questions asked or answered.

Of course with these kinds of questions one might be entering into the realm of supposition and conjecture, but there is an educative element here, as opposed to blind sensationalism. One starts looking beneath the surfaces instead of just accepting surface appearances.

We know from the statistics that firearms kept at home are mostly used against loved ones in familial disputes, so why isn’t there a raging political discussion in SA about guns kept at home? Themes, which should be raging across our TV screens, newspapers and radios, are taking the back burner and I suspect that the sensationalism we are getting, is getting in the way.

They tell me that all the B&Bs and hotels in Pretoria are booked out, that the restaurants are humming, so I think that things are not about to change, we are still not hurting enough.

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