Archive | April, 2014

What is justice?

14 Apr

What is justice?.

What is justice?

14 Apr


With being in the activism space for over a decade now, I can honestly say that although we have made positive strides, we still have a long way to go. Over this time I constantly question what justice is, do we know our rights, why do some get preferential treatment over others? The past few weeks South Africa has been in the spotlight for two major cases, the Oscar Pistorious trial and the Shiren Dewani trial. Lets start with OP, as it is commonly referred to on Twitter and Facebook. There has been a lot of debate regarding the media attention to the case and the issue about the trial being broadcast live. I agree that we have the right to the live broadcast; I also agree that Reeva deserves justice and by achieving this all should be out in the open so we have a better understanding of where the trial is going. I also believe that if one gender based violence case receives major attention, every gender based violence case should receive the same.

A perfect example would be to look at the case where Thato Kutumela, who was sentenced to 10 years for rape and 20 years for the murder of his 18-year-old pregnant teenage ex-girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. This would never have been brought to our attention if it were not for Zanele’s father phoning through to 702 to talk about it. Why were there no journalists reporting on this, why did it not receive proper media attention?

I also question the sentence, is the price of a pregnant black women’s life worth only 20 years of imprisonment and rape is worth only 10 years?

On 9 November 2012, an international rhino horn smuggling syndicate kingpin Chumlong Lemtongthai, was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment. I guess, in South Africa rhinos are more important than the lives of black women.

Oscar was given bail, he was granted permission to leave the country and go on a lavish holiday to Mozambique. Why were there no restrictions on his bail applications?

The case of Anne Boyden trial, her accused were denied bail.

Let us take a look at the OP case and the preferential treatment given to Oscar. In the beginning when referring to Oscar he was addressed as Mr. Pistorious and Reeva was referred to as Reeva, yes it is her name but then address Oscar by first name basis as well. The questioning of Oscar and his award winning, rehearsed emotional breakdowns make me sick. The proceedings were stopped for him to gain composure; they should have been limited to five minutes at a time. He has not taken responsibility for his actions and is desperately hanging on to the ‘woe is me’ petulant childish act.

Last week, The SA Human Rights Commission has been asked to probe the manner in which State prosecutor Gerrie Nel conducted his cross-examination of murder-accused Oscar Pistorious. When Michelle Burger was questioned in a rather intense and heated manner, she stood her ground and told what she needed to say and tat was her version of the truth.

What is even more frustrating to me is that this type of treatment in many cases is not given to women who are testifying against their abusers or rapists. In a meeting held on Saturday with our POWA (People opposing women abuse) board. This issue came to the foreground. When we prepare a survivor for a trial, we prepare them for these types of treatment. Many times women break down and cry during their questioning, the women have to relive the proceedings of what happened to them, many times questioned for their behaviors and dress code and their validity. When they break down and cry due to the emotional stress, often they are told to stop crying and compose themselves or the case would be thrown out of court. Why are they not given time for composure or the case postponed to the following day?

Three years ago Shiren Dewani came to South Africa and had his wife Anni (Hinocha) Dewani murdered. The couple’s taxi driver Zola Tongo has testified that Shrien Dewani planned the murder. He received an 18-year jail sentence. Mziwamadoda Qwabe, a co-gang member, has also pleaded guilty to being involved in a plan to stage a fake hijacking to kill the wife, confirming the facts in Tongo’s statement and been sentenced to 25 years jail. Mbolombo, who introduced the driver to the 2 carjackers, has turned state witness. The other carjacker, Xolile Mngeni, has been jailed for life after a lengthy trial in what the Western Cape High Court found was a “contract killing”.

Forensic evidence, mobile phone call records, sms text message records, CCTV footage and multiple witnesses to various events support the convictions. Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who confessed and was jailed for 25 years for his part, has testified that he was acting on instructions of Shiren Dewani. The South African police have charged Shrien Dewani with conspiracy to murder, murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances and obstruction of the administration of justice. He attempted to resist extradition to South Africa for 3 years but was eventually forcibly extradited by an order of the UK High Court on 7th April 2014. Mr. Dewani was originally planned to fly from Heathrow in London but left the country on a private jet chartered by the South African authorities to avoid press attention. Now why did South Africa pay for this flight, which by the way cost taxpayers millions of South African Rands? The excuse given was they did not want media attention! Once again why are we giving a person who has already been charged, preferential treatment?

So going back to my original question, what is Justice?

Is justice giving preferential treatment to those who do harm?

Is Justice devaluing the life of women?

Is justice not giving the dead the respect they deserve?

If you have money can you define your own justice?

For those who need assistance in abuse cases either through therapy, court preparations or simply knowing what your rights are, please contact us at POWA.

Rosie Motene: Vice-chairperson for POWA

office: +27(0)11 083 6002

Head Office: Berea

Postal Address: PO Box 93416, Yeoville 2143 Johannesburg

Telephone: 011 642 4345/6 Fax: 011 484 3195 


POWA Legal Advice



POWA Evaton

Telephone: 081 383 7698

POWA Soweto

Room 10 Nthabiseng Centre, Chris Hani Hospital

Telephone: 011 933 2333/2310

POWA Katlehong

667 Monise Section, Katlehong 1431

Telephone: 011 860 2858

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