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.
Making sure no child offender is left behind
From the article by Glynnis Underhill in the Mail and Guardian Online:
South Africa had finally fallen in line with the trend of most other countries, including several in Africa, which, for many years, have had separate laws dealing with child offenders.
"The Child Justice Act is new. In South African law we have never previously had a separate law that sets out how to deal with child offenders," said Ann Skelton, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria and an authority on the subject.
"We have previously had to make do with the Criminal Procedure Act, which is the general criminal justice system for all offenders."
The Child Justice Act has established a criminal justice system for minors that expands on and entrenches the principles of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, Skelton said. It ensures children's responsibility and accountability for crimes they have committed. Skelton applauded the Act for placing an increased emphasis on the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of children to minimise the risk of them reoffending.
More on Restorative Justice at the UN Crime Congress
Day two at the 12th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice didn’t yield as many comments of restorative justice, but there were some interesting statements made especially by the delegates from South Africa and Peru. On 13 April, the Plenary continued its discussion on Children, Youth, and Crime with more member states as well as non-governmental organisations and independent experts.
Launch of Wentworth Restorative Justice Project in Durban
from the announcement on Imagine Durban:
Khulisa is an award-winning NGO dedicated to preventing crime through promoting rehabilitation, education and reconciliation.
In partnership with the South Durban Basin Area Based Management Programme of Ethekwini Municipality, Khulisa has launched an integrated pilot project aimed at bringing the concepts of restorative justice (RJ) into the Merewent community.
Khulisa helps families and communities support victims who need healing and offenders who want to make amends in order to provide support to the justice system by maximising community participation.
Effects of crime on kids underestimated
...."The significance of this study was to capture unreported cases of crime and victimisation against young people," she said.
Leoschut said the study found that different types of crimes led to distinct forms of post-traumatic stress disorder among youths.
"A lot of them suffer from psychological stress and become more aggressive after being victimised."