• Teenagers and alcohol don’t mix. What are parents’ responsibilities to ensure that their children don’t abuse alcohol? We give a variety of tips in our Community Safety feature in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Tennis star Bob Hewitt found guilty 30 years after committing sexual abuse against those he coached. Read the details about what had happened in the Crime Series published in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Sexting – the exchange of sexual messages or images – is a reality in schools. Teachers and learners are perpetrators and it is important to know about the dangers. Read our article in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Teenage alcohol abuse combined with sexting can have devastating & deadly consequences. Parents need to get involved to prevent their children from becoming victims. Read our article in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

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By Annalise Kempen

Every now and again, and especially following the death of a well-known person, such as after the murder of Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa, there seems to be renewed calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty. But the question is whether, if such emotional pleas led to the taking of this very controversial step, it would contribute to a decrease in South Africa's high violent crime rate.

In searching for some answers, Servamus turned to the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR)’s thought-provoking paper entitled Capital punishment in South Africa: Was abolition the right decision? Is there a case for South Africa to reintroduce the death penalty? which was published in November 2016. Despite many people holding the view that our high crime rate - especially in terms of violent crimes - will decrease if the death penalty is reintroduced, there is much more to consider when addressing this topic.

 

Historical background

On 14 November 1989, Solomon Ngobeni was the last person to be executed by the government of South Africa. Solomon was one of the 1100 people who were executed between 1981 and 1989. In the years between 1910 and 1975, 2740 people were executed, bringing the total number of executions to 3840 - an average of around 50 per year for an 80-year period. 

On 2 February 1990, former State President F W de Klerk told Parliament, during one of the most historically significant speeches made in South Africa's history, that "the death penalty should be limited as an option of sentence to extreme cases, and specifically through broadening judicial discretion in the imposition of sentence; and that an automatic right of appeal be granted to those under sentence of death" (www.sahistory.org.za/archive/fw-de-klerk%E2%80%99s-speech-parliament-2-february-1990).

I wonder how many people know that, when capital punishment was legal in South Africa, it was implemented not only for murder, but also for rape, housebreakings, robbery or attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances, sabotage, training abroad to further the aims of communism, kidnapping, terrorism and treason. 

 

The 1995 Constitutional Court decision

The Constitutional Court (CC), which is the highest court in South Africa, was born in 1994 out of the country's first democratic Constitution. This court outlawed capital punishment in the case of State v Makwanyane and Mchunu, which was heard in February 1995, judgment being handed down in June 1995. In this case, the two accused were sentenced to death in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 ("the CPA") on each of four counts of murder. Although the Interim Constitution of South Africa of 1993 (which was in force at the time) prohibited "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", the Constitution did not define this, so the Constitutional Court had to do so. 

In delivering the unanimous judgment, Judge Arthur Chaskalson, the President of the CC, said: “The carrying out of the death sentence destroys life, it annihilates human dignity, elements of arbitrariness are present in its enforcement and it is irremediable ... I am satisfied that in the context of our Constitution the death penalty is indeed a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

The point was further raised that the value of the death sentence as a deterrent, as a form of retribution, and as a means of preventing further crime, had to be weighed against alternative measures available to the State, particularly life imprisonment. It had not been shown that the death sentence was materially more effective than life imprisonment, with the result that the requirements of the limitations clause (found in section 36 of the current Constitution) were not met. It was found that the CPA and any other legislation sanctioning capital punishment were "inconsistent" with the Constitution and therefore "invalid". The State was therefore "forbidden to execute any person already sentenced to death" under any law now declared invalid - such persons were to remain in custody pending the imposition of another punishment. 

It came as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of public opinion was in favour of the retention of the death penalty, but Judge Chaskalson noted that the Constitution outweighed public opinion.

[This is an extract from a very interesting article published in Servamus: March 2017. The rest of the article focuses on the international position on the death penalty; explores the arguments for and against the death penalty; and the other side(s) of the coin – such as retribution and the possibility of the wrong judgment. We also sought an answer to the question of whether the death penalty is really a deterrent. Contact Servamus’s office at tel: (012) 345 4660/41 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to enquire about getting a copy of the article. Ed.] 

Servamus - June 2017

In April 2013, a 17-year-old girl named Rehtaeh Parsons, was removed from life support and subsequently died.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
"Can you crawl through my window? I will do whatever you want. I want it to be first-class. First-class hotel, champagne and good sex."
By Kotie Geldenhuys
It is night-time in the city. Flashing neon lights and soft streetlamps create shadowy images across the pavement.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
In May 2017, the story broke that a young 22-year-old water polo teacher at Parktown Boys High had been accused of sexually grooming and assaulting more than 20 schoolboys, aged between 15 and 16 years, at this top school in Johannesburg.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - Jun 2017

Read More - Gareth Prince, Jonathan David Rubin, Jeremy David Acton and Others v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and Others, unreported case no 8760/2013 dated 31 March 2017, Western Cape High Court (WCC)
This is the much-publicised case regarding an application by the three applicants supra, before a full bench of three judges of the High Court in Cape Town ("the court"), for a declaration that certain legislative provisions that prohibit the use, possession, purchase and cultivation for personal or communal consumption of cannabis (also referred to as "dagga" and/or "marijuana"), are invalid.
Read More - S V [Bob] Hewitt 2017 (1) SACR 309 (SCA)
This is the much-publicised case of the retired, world-renowned champion tennis player and instructor/coach, Bob Hewitt, who was convicted by the High Court in Pretoria on two counts of rape* and one count of indecent assault*.
Read More – Burford v Minister of Police, unreported case no CA 128/2015 dated 10 November 2015 (ECG)
Background Section 50 (1)(a),(b),(c) and (d)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:

Letters - Jun 2017

I am a retired member of the SAPS and I collect all kinds of SAPS memorabilia from the inception of the South African Police in 1913 right to the present.
I am a retired member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and I would like to purchase a blue leather uniform jacket as worn by SAPS members.
On 21 April 2017, police colleagues of D/W/O Petrus Oelofse attended his farewell function, which was hosted by the Jeffreys Bay Stock Theft Unit.
June 2017 Magazine Cover

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The publication’s strategic business goals are to establish greater involvement and effective communication between the different role-players within the broader policing environment, publish a magazine which is aimed at satisfying/addressing the needs of the subscribers and broader community and to strive towards excellent journalism.