Dewani a free man: a story of justice for the have and have not’s


‘’It is not merely of some importance but it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’’

As the country continues to mark 16 days of activism against women and children abuse, and certifying that violence against women and children is diminished if not totally finished, Shrien Dewani a murder accused for conspiring to kill his wife has been set free in Western Cape high court. This is done even before he could even present his side of the case. Seemingly, the state’s case is so poor, undependable and incoherent that it is not even worth a response.

This is happening while those who vowed that Mr Dewani conspired with them, one of the convicted has gone to a degree of dying in prison out of sickness. We were told he could not get medical parole as his permanent residence could not be confirmed as he did not own property or did not have what he could call home or property of his permanent residence…… What a shame for have not’s.

What is remarkable is that this development in Mr Dewani case has prospects of hammering a heavy blow against fighting women abuse, as it may weaken confidence of women in being definite in that justice will not only be done but it will also be seen to be done, when even those that are killed, accused can walk scot free. It is already stated that approximately half of all South African women murdered in 1999 were killed by intimate partners. This translated into a prevalence rate of 8.8 per 100 000 women 14 years and older, or a woman killed every six hours – the highest rate yet reported by research anywhere in the world (Mathews et al, 2004).

This also further compounds a problem of acts of abuse and violence against women which are not reported as further reported by Tshwaranang Legal advocacy centre in that random, representative study of 2 068 rape cases reported in Gauteng in 2003 found that half of reports led to arrests (50.5%) but only 42.8% of suspects appearing in court. Trials commenced in less than one in five cases (17.3%) and a conviction or any crime resulted in just over 1 in 20 (6.2%) cases. However, some of these convictions were for lesser charges so overall only 4.1% of cases reported as rape resulted in convictions for rape (Vetten et al.2008), as women have no confidence that justice will be done and this Mr Dewani judgement may only confirm that.

Second salient point is that post 1994 racial and class dynamics reflect that because of capital accumulation of white’s pre 1994, structural  economic  set up  point  that  in the main blacks are still the proletariat suffering from catastrophic poverty. That is why even though there is insistence that there was conspiring but three poor African males are rotting in jail and rich business man is a free man.

What this reveals is deep embedded reality in that in this country justice has a price, those who have big pockets can figuratively and literally get away with murder, while the have not’s have nowhere to hide, but will be visited by the ruthless hand of lady justice.

At the centre of this harsh reality is the fact that, what exists is one country with its own set of law for the rich and on the other part exists a world of the poor whom are mainly Africans.

This once more as it was the case in recent case of Mr Pistorius disclose that administration of justice in this country is embedded in our class divide, with glaring dialectical relationship between race and class which in this instance is juxtaposed against affordability to buy justice.

This system for all in turns and purpose says that those who cannot afford expensive lawyers can buy justice and are at an advantage as they can have access to top lawyers, get better counselling and their side of the story looked favourable. And those who have no resources and with no or little knowledge on how law is administered whom in the main are black can never be fully considered or heard in a court of law. It is of little doubt that if illiterate, poor young black African from township or rural area was the one in the dock, would not only be overwhelmed by nature of proceedings and further subjected to poor representation, with his skin colour be regarded as befitting the alleged crime, tables would have turned.

Further administration of justice should never be an exclusive terrain of only learned colleagues that is not understood, shared and accepted general folk. Danger of this alienated justice from very same ordinary people it should be administered upon is that it erode confidence of society to courts of the land and administration of justice and consequences of that can only be dire.

With all being taken into consideration it is clear that criminal law favours the rich and wealthy and therefore bolters law as subject of class rule designed to cushion in the main ruling class and condemn the working class as poor.


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