Legislative provisions for these types of criminals
Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
For a period of 11 years the serial rapist and murderer, Jimmy Maketta, terrorised communities in the Philippi area near Cape Town. He would stalk his victims like an animal, often sitting on a hill from where he had a good view of the local farms and houses. After dark he would break in, rape and kill his victims by hacking them to pieces with an axe or by bludgeoning them with a hammer. Many of his rape victims were drunk when he attacked them at night, and did not even know they had been raped. After his arrest and trial he was found guilty on 47 charges, including 19 counts of rape and 16 counts of murder.
Jimmy Maketta has been described as a psychopath who has shown no remorse and who cannot be rehabilitated. In May 2007, he was declared a dangerous criminal in the Cape High Court. Judge Abie Motala said that Maketta would be detained in prison for 25 years, whereafter he would be brought before the High Court again, for a judge to assess whether he was suitable for release back into the community. Effectively, this means that Jimmy Maketta will never become eligible for parole, and that his release from prison, if this ever happens, will depend on the ruling of a judge and not on the prison authorities.
So what makes Jimmy Maketta different to other criminals? Why has he been declared a dangerous criminal and why are others not? To answer these questions and learn more about a person being declared a dangerous criminal, Servamus spoke to Col Bronwynn Stollarz and Capt Elmarie Myburgh from the SAPS's Investigative Psychology Section.
Col Stollarz explained that section 286A and B of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (CPA) deals with the declaration of a person as a "dangerous criminal". However, she said that psychiatrists and psychologists prefer using the term "risk" instead of "dangerous" as anyone can be dangerous. "If I drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, I am dangerous," she explained. However, for the purpose of this article and since the legislation uses the term "dangerous criminal" we will continue to use this term in our discussion.
Taking into consideration the amount of violent crime to which South Africans are exposed, it came as a surprise to hear that so few criminals are declared dangerous criminals in terms of the CPA. In South Africa there are only approximately 60 cases in which criminals have been declared to be dangerous criminals. The legislation applies to accused persons who have not been sentenced to life incarceration, and it is also up to the prosecutor to apply to court to have a person declared a dangerous criminal in terms of section 286A and 286B of the CPA.
People who have been declared dangerous criminals according to the relevant sections of the CPA include the following:
- Jimmy Maketta was declared a dangerous criminal (refer to the related article in Servamus: January 2015).
- André Gregory Mohammed was declared a dangerous criminal.
- Chané van Heerden, who killed Michael van Eck in the Welkom cemetery with the help of her boyfriend, was declared a dangerous criminal. She acted on her twisted fantasies and was diagnosed with a rare condition called "shared psychotic disorder". Since Chané poses a danger to society and was declared a dangerous criminal, she will only be allowed to apply for release in 2031 - if she can convince a court that she is fit to be released back into society (refer to the related article in Servamus: November 2013).
- Petrus Pheelo Molora, a serial rapist, was declared a dangerous criminal in 2003 (www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/ News/Serial-rapist-Key-thrown-away-20030606).
- Michael Vuyo Sekiti, who sexually assaulted a person in 2007 while he was a patient at the Fort England Hospital in Grahamstown, was declared a dangerous criminal. He has numerous previous convictions and has been a state patient of this hospital since 1999. Dr Hester Jordaan, a psychiatrist, argued that the accused, as a result of his antisocial personality disorder, was a risk to society and said that "the longer people are protected from him, probably the better". On the basis of Dr Jordaan's evidence, Judge Plasket ordered an assessment of the accused in terms of section 286A of the CPA. Reports from two other psychiatrists confirmed that the accused represents a danger to the physical or mental well-being of other persons and that the community should be protected from him. Taking this into consideration, Judge Plasket imposed a ten year sentence and declared the accused as a dangerous criminal (www.saflii.org/za/ cases/ZAECGHC/2010/2.pdf).
Section 286A and 286B was inserted into the CPA by the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 116 of 1993 (which came into operation on 1 November 1993), mainly as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Booysen Commission of Inquiry into the "Continued inclusion of psychopathy as a certifiable mental illness and the handling of psychopathic and other violent offenders". The Booysen Commission's terms of reference were not confined to psychopaths or people suffering from antisocial personality disorders. It also investigated and made recommendations concerning the handling and release of dangerous, violent and/or sexual offenders in general.