Anybody read the “Saturday Star” this past weekend? The front page story about Dina Rodriguez, the mastermind behind the killing of Baby Jordan? Those who watched m-net’s true crime re-enactment series last year will remember this story vividly and I’m sure the rest of us can recall the horror we felt at the killing of a helpless infant at the hands of those paid to do so by a fresh-faced young Dina Rodriguez. The article promised “new explosive details” not heard before.
Well, it was hardly revelatory. There were no explosive details at all. In fact, I read with some incredulity how Dina squarely lays the blame on everyone else but herself for her heinous crime. Yes, she does concede that the court was correct to convict her but according to her, with hindsight she “probably experienced the unsophisticated emotions of an immature and experienced woman, adult in body but not in mind”. (Huh?) She also alleges that her trial, particularly the sentencing stage, was “marred by irregularity” because, in her view, she did not receive the correct legal advice. (That’s not what her counsel has to say, but anyway…)
She continues to say that she had “little experience of life and even less experience of relationships with men” (Alrighty then...) and that when the murder was committed she was a very immature 24 years old. (Weren’t we all?)
Her excuses get even worse when she attempts to blame it on the fact that she had a protected and old-fashioned upbringing, the fact that she had always lived at home with her parents, that she experienced bouts of jealousy that her then boyfriend had a child from a previous relationship as well as inferring that he somehow condoned what she would later do by saying that “I made broad hints to Wilson of my thoughts which I now realise were sick in nature and I misinterpreted his reaction, in particular his failure to condemn the sick thoughts which I was harbouring, as a form of agreement”
Basically, what Dina is saying that it’s everybody else’s fault but her own that she chose to seek out people who would be prepared to kill a baby for money. Money that was not even her own, I may add, but from her brother’s business to which she had access to. Worse still, she said she was surprised that she was convicted.
Where is the contrition? The regret? Wouldn’t the judges be more likely to be lenient if the lady actually said “Sorry”?
Then there is Donovan Moodley, found guilty in 2005 of the kidnapping and murder of Leigh Matthews and the extortion of her father. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion. Mr Moodley apparently repeatedly pointed out that the crime was "haphazard" and "quite stupid" and claimed he had been forced to confess to the murder and was denied a lawyer when investigating officer Piet Byleveld interrogated him. Since then Moodley has maintained an infrequent handle on the South African media's radar by appealing his sentence. In June 2006, Moodley appealed, claiming that he had worked with co-conspirators in the murder, and that the police had failed to bring them to book. He also claimed to have been framed. In November 2009, he approached the Johannesburg High Court to have his life sentence overturned on a technicality. His original sentence was deemed to be fitting, and the court ruled against his claim. Moodley mentioned in a hand-written note given to journalists, that he planned to approach the Constitutional Court to seek justice. In January 2012 he again applied to the high court for a retrial which was also denied.
We live in an age of excuses, where almost no-one is held accountable for their actions. Jails are filled with people who ‘didn’t do it”, or blame their crimes on bad childhoods, abandonment issues, Mommy issues, Daddy issues, psychological problems. In court cases experts are called upon to corroborate their bizarre hypotheses, recently a clinical psychiatrist told the High Court in Pretoria that the so-called "Modimolle monster" Johan Kotze was not accountable for his actions. The judge wisely chose to ignore this and sentenced Kotze to a gratifying life imprisonment.
There are those who have blamed the economy for their crimes, the current government, the previous government, religion, the lack of religion, being influenced by the media, heavy metal music and horror movies, “the devil made me do it”…...where does it end and when do we hold people accountable for their own behavior without excusing it?
Having said all that, commiting murder and then blaming it on some-one or something else is hardly new. John Lennon’s killer Mark Chapman originally blamed what he did on the book “Catcher in the Rye” even using a copy of the novel as his statement but has since admitted that his motivation for killing Lennon was instant notoriety. His honesty is refreshing. Still not getting out of jail though…..
No-one is to blame for what we do or why we do it. We are the masters of our own destiny and are to blame for our own actions. Honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani is to be extradited to South Africa to face trial and Oscar Pistorious is due to appear in court today. It’s going to be interesting to see how these two cases pan out and what excuses are used in their defence.
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