Parole, release and restorative justice: Minister and National Council for Correctional Services
The meeting provided an opportunity for the Portfolio Committee (PC) to engage with the Minister and the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS) on matters of parole and release, with particular emphasis on the position of those sentenced to life imprisonment (lifers) and the role of the restorative justice processes.
Activists berate Traditional Courts Bill in South Africa
The controversial Traditional Courts Bill, which its critics say will take the country back to the era of bantustans, is set to come under scrutiny at a series of public hearings in KwaZulu-Natal.
The sponsor of the bill, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, argues that the legislation seeks to affirm the recognition of traditional justice and its values based on restorative justice and reconciliation.
from the entry by Maanda Ntsandeni on Aljazeera:
....My journey to making Parole Camp began four years ago when a friend, Andrew May, invited me to South Africa's Pollsmoor Prison. Andrew, an American studying for his Masters of Law degree, was running a class on the Restorative Justice System for inmates approaching their release.
Like many South Africans frustrated by the country's soaring crime rates, I was deeply prejudiced towards anybody who had served time in prison - choosing to focus on my belief that they deserved punishment while overlooking the fact that they had served their dues behind bars.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Stefaans Coetzee is the face of restorative justice
from the article by Bobby Jordan in The Sunday Times:
....Today is no ordinary day for the 33-year-old who grew up in an orphanage in Winburg in the Free State. Head slightly bowed, he looks up at two imams who have finally been allowed to visit him at Pretoria Central Prison. Their two previous attempts failed. The imams are from Rustenburg, where some of their congregation were nearly blown up by two Wit Wolwe bombs outside their mosque.
Now they want to ask Coetzee what it was all about.
A humanist defence and critique of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
....In order to build more authentic truth and reconciliation commissions in the future, it is also important to acknowledge the largely inauthentic, instrumentalist political foundations of the TRC project.
Restorative Justice Centre helps change Roman Dutch law:
from RJC's website:
....The Restorative Justice Centre entered as amicus curiae in Le Roux v Dey, represented by the Centre for Child Law. Their submissions argued the common law should be developed to include a procedural step requiring reasonable engagement before court proceedings can be lodged. This way attempts to apologise must be the first resort, that failing, court proceedings may then be implemented. This is particularly important in cases involving children, as they are still developing and will naturally make mistakes as they grow and develop. The submissions were largely successful.
South African shock as alleged rape victim charged
South African rights groups have expressed shock at a decision to charge a 15-year-old alleged gang-rape victim with having underage sex.
The girl was charged with statutory rape along with her alleged rapists, who are aged 14 and 16.
Coetzee does not talk about his childhood. He speaks about the planning that went into the bombing, how he was chosen for his excellent military skills, the years he has spent in prison. He asks for their questions, and the group responds. How did he learn to hate black people? How did he unlearn this hatred? How does he spend his days now? Is he sorry? And if he is so sorry, what can he give them? Coetzee admits he has nothing material to give the world except the leather belt that holds up his overalls. But, he says, God willing, if he gets out of jail, he can begin to attempt to compensate for what he has done. "There are children now in South Africa," he says, "children without parents. They might be tempted to get into violent gangs, to follow anger instead of love." He says, "I can show them that the first life you have to change is your own."
Request for assistance regarding a South African case
from Ann Skelton:
Mike Batley and I are currently working on a Constitutional Court case in South Africa in which we are arguing that the civil justice system has not kept pace with developments in the criminal justice system to encourage more restorative justice approaches.
The case in point is a civil claim for damages for defamation of character by a school teacher against school pupils who manufactured a naughty (but funny from an adolescent perspective) picture of him by pasting his head on the body of a gay wrestler. The picture was on the school notice board for 30 minutes, and some children in the school also received the image via their cell phones.
The children were punished in school (5 detentions + honours colours taken away), were charged criminally and were diverted (they completed 56 hours of community service at the zoo), they attempted to apologise, and have now been successfully sued through the civil justice system to pay damages. They now appeal to the Constitutional Court. Their main arguments have to do with Freedom of expression and 'jest' as a defence, but the Restorative Justice Centre is entering as amicus curiae to make various points about restorative justice.