I agree with the Dewani acquittal

2014-12-11 11:48

Our legal system has been deeply analysed and criticized over the last few months with the trial of Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani. Oscar was charged with culpable homicide and received in my opinion , a rather “celebrity like” sentence of 5 years which can be divided into time spent in “prison” equalling 1/6 of his sentence (10 months) and time spent under home arrest (the reminder of his sentencing with the possibility of early release on good behaviour). Oscar is safe and sound in his hospital ward, which in all honesty cannot be called a prison. After the state filed papers last month calling for a heavier conviction and harsher sentencing, I am so glad that the state’s leave to appeal was granted. However it was limited to just the conviction and not the sentencing. The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein will deal with the matter at a date yet to be determined. Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso on Monday acquitted Shrien Dewani on the charge of killing his wife Anni in November 2010 during their honeymoon in Cape Town. Dewani is safely back in Britain after taking a connecting Emirates first class flight from South Africa to London via Dubai. The similarities among Shrien and Oscar is the bank balances they had before their trials, the majority of South Africans feel like heavy bank balances can help you get away with murder in South Africa with a rather weak justice system. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement: “The court`s decision to acquit Shrien Dewani of murder has fed into a developing perception in society that, particularly in recent cases involving gender based violence, our criminal justice system serves the rich and prominent in society rather than protecting the most vulnerable; in these instances the victims who are women.” Our justice system is created in such a way that a prominent English principle forms part of the fundamental basis of South African law where we believe that a criminal should go free before an innocent man enters a prison. In criminal matters the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Following this, I strongly agree with Deputy Judge President Traverso’s decision to acquit Shrien. We follow procedure in South African law and if there is no sufficient or consistent evidence to hold Shrien accountable then the court has to follow the acquittal process. The issue here is not our judges and their competency levels but more on how effective the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) actually is, given the judgment handed down in the Shrien Dewani murder case. I guess our law spreads the safety net too wide for criminals but we cannot criticize the Judge’s implementation of the law when we should actually be asking for our justice system to be improved and tightened up a little. My issue with the Dewani extradition was the amount of money spent to get him here, we spent just under R3 000 000 to just transport him to South Africa. I understand the Ministry and their obligation to deliver a person to their trial but I am almost certain that costs could have been saved somewhere along the line. The reasoning behind the private plane used to transport him, was the fact that there was undisputed evidence during the extradition hearing that he had displayed suicidal tendencies and the South African government did not want to take chances which meant that he was travelling with was a doctor, a nurse, members of the South African Police Services and Interpol.

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