Justice is no mere formality

There’s nothing like a horrific murder to set an entire community on edge. It’s almost a matter of course that a violent crime such as the brutal murder of John and Hester Noble should create a noxious atmosphere of anger, fear and outrage. The thought of a stranger invading one’s home is as infuriating as it is frightening, and living under the threat of meeting a bloody end in one’s own home is not something any community should be subjected to. That the arrows of a community’s outrage should find their targets in the men accused of the crime is something to be expected. But it doesn’t always make it okay.

When it was reported that the men accused of the Nobles’ murder feared for their lives, I chuckled at the apparent irony: murderers fearing for their lives! Somehow, whether consciously or otherwise, I’d made the leap from ‘arrested’ to ‘guilty’ without even thinking about it. And I wasn’t the only one. A link to the story on our sister publication’s Facebook page has garnered a string of comments in a similar vein, some of them disturbingly violent.

Don’t get me wrong, expressions of outrage, particularly outrage at violent crime, are not only welcome, they’re downright necessary. But there is a fine line between expressing outrage and being vindictive.

Perhaps it’s a result of its deficiency, but for some reason too many South Africans view our criminal justice system as mere formality. In the crazed heat of our outrage we can forget that anyone placed under arrest in this country is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The tendency to make the mental shortcuts from ‘arrested’ or ‘accused’ to ‘guilty’ is now a thing so common we have to actively guard against; it’s a slippery slope to taking the law into one’s own hands.

Heaven forbid I should sound like I’m defending a bunch of murderous thugs, but the truth is that until they’ve had a fair trial and been found guilty in a court of law, those men are innocent. If they are found guilty, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and as far as I know that doesn’t involve having them drawn and quartered, or any other medieval punishments that have been suggested. In the meantime, I may well hold the opinion that they are indeed murderous thugs, but until the gavel falls on a guilty verdict, that’s all it is: an opinion.

To treat it as fact not only makes a mockery of the social contract we hold as responsible citizens, but of our Constitution.

  AUTHOR
Chris Tobo
Columnist

Latest News

COMMENTS

Top
Recommended Story x
Business Circle workshop

Thanks for your referral. We have no doubt your friends will love our newsletter as much as you!

Don't forget to verify your email.

to our FREE newsletter
SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter.




SELECT your titles:

Berea Mail
Highway Mail
Northglen News


Get regular news updates sent directly to your inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter

SELECT your titles:

Berea Mail
Highway Mail
Northglen News

Get regular news updates sent directly to you inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

Subscribe Here
1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites
Your details:


Your friends: