‘Seems to me, murder in South Africa has become too easy’. Not my words but that of a taxi driver in Zagreb, over 8 000kms away. How do you know? I ask. ‘On television, and all over social media’, he shoots back.
There you have it. We’re on the map. Nothing about Table Mountain, the Garden Route, game parks and ideal weather conditions. But murder. Killing. Nice, eh? With stats to back up the terrible truth.
Our well informed driver is not done. “Your farmers are shot and tortured daily. Am I right?” We have no place to hide. Trapped in the back of a taxi in a foreign country, we numbly nod.
Noting our discomfort, he tries softening the blow. “But don’t feel bad, the Balkans had its share of killings,” referring to the horrendous ethnic cleansing that took place in Sarajevo and Herzegovina. But there the comparison ends, as the Balkans has since got its act together, and today enjoys a healthy economy, peace and crime figures not near ours.
In SA the multitudinous pending cases and reported incidences of murder have demystified the horrible reality of snuffing out lives and the effect it has on those left behind – accepting it as a way of life. This parlous situation in a country that should be enjoying the fruits of a new-found democracy, begs the question: Why has murder become easy meat? First off, let’s consider the deterrents. What is the worst fate facing a person found guilty of taking a life? Say, fifteen years behind bars.
For good behaviour, the sentence could be halved. Throw in three meals a day, recreation facilities, television, and the opportunity of furthering studies. Even marriages are consummated in cells. Not a bad deal for evil-doers with blood on their hands.
So, would-be murderers planning doing away with someone, when weighing up the consequences of being caught, know full well they’ll be given another chance of a new life after a relatively short spell in prison.
So incarceration cannot be considered a deterrent. The results speak for themselves. Murder, in all of its forms, is on-going – and on the increase if you include gang-related killings – with no signs of it abating.
Shoot me down if you like, but I reckon capital punishment is part of the answer. Hold a referendum and prove me wrong.