Politicisation of Crime

There is an article in today’s Business Day informing us that South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority plans to investigate historical allegations of mass rape by members of ZANU-PF during the build up tp Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. Although Zimbabwe has not done so, South Africa has ratified the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. As such, the NPA has been ordered by a high court here in SA to investigate what amounts to ‘crimes against humanity’.

While I applaud this courageous and therefore, undoubtedly novel, move by this country’s judiciary, I do have some difficulty understanding it. Though rape is certainly a monstrous crime, I cannot help but feel that most people would rather be raped than murdered. And yet no courts seem to want to investigate the numerous murders that took place over the same period and for the same reasons, i,e. to intimidate the opposition party. It would seem that there is more ‘glamour’ attached to rape. I imagine it has something to do with the female vote. Women are predominantly, though not exclusively, the victims of rape and as such constitute an easily identifiable group. I suppose that individual voters like to feel that their government is doing something specifically for them. There is more political capital to be gained by going after rapists rather than murderers.

Following a truly horrific rape and murder that took place here recently and which was much publicised, one paper printed the various rapes statistics from around the world (sorry, cant find the list I saw). South Africa ranked right up there at the top as one might expect from a country where crime is endemic. What was interesting was that Sweden had by far the highest per capita cases of reported rape in Europe. Of course this is largely as a result of the Swedish definition of rape which is much broader than elsewhere as Julian Assange has discovered. Sweden’s unique definition of rape is surely there to assuage the female electorate, though I think some of South Africa’s victims might be rather incensed by any comparisons between what they have suffered and what Assange’s alleged victims went through.

I totally applaud the action of South Africa’s NPA, but I do hope it will pursue allegations of murder and assault in Zimbabwe as well. I have lost any faith that SA’s judiciary will instigate investigations into the epidemic of murders that continues to traumatise white farming communities. Not many votes to be won there.


14 thoughts on “Politicisation of Crime”

  1. “Sweden’s unique definition of rape is surely there to assuage the female electorate.” Are you suggesting they shouldn’t get involved in the legislative process?

  2. I should imagine that pursuing the rapists means the prosecution has living witnesses to confront the guilty men too. As they say “Dead men (and women) tell no tales”.

  3. Sheona, I am not sure that ease of conviction should be the main criteria for determining whether or not criminals are pursued and prosecuted, though granted it is more difficult to secure convictions without witnesses. Murder is a more heinous crime than rape, but there is less political capital to be gained by efforts to eradicate it because murder effects all sections of society. Rape victims are predominantly female and this provides a polarity in the electorate that is ripe for exploitation. There is a ‘them and us’. It is like issues such as gay marriage, gun control, abortion rights, etc. Polarity creates debate and raises emotions leading to greater political involvement, despite the fact that the vast majority of people are not directly effected by gay-marriage, a proliferation of weapons, abortion or rape.

    Democracy, like any man-made institution, is deeply flawed. Politicians are no different to tax consultants. They all seek to exploit the system to their best advantage with little thought given to the spirit of the law though trying to avoid breaking the letter. Tax consultants and their clients do not see that it is their role in life to try and pay the correct amount of tax, they see it as being to pay the least amount they can legitimately, not morally, get away with. Politicians do not see that their purpose in life should be to govern to the best of their ability those whom they have been elected to govern. Politicians, for the most part, have one ambition and that is to seek power for themselves. Morals have nothing to do with it. Thus they will manipulate issues in order to garner themselves a maximum number of votes.

    Perhaps the system of appointing governments should be reviewed as often as the tax code, though of course it won’t be. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas.

  4. I can’t see that South Africa has any jurisdiction over another country. They can try the case in absentia but I cannot see they can actually arrest anyone in another country.
    Complete waste of time and money. I suppose at the moment they haven’t got any war criminals so the lawyers are hungry!

    What is it with Africa and rape? They really appear to be quite unable to keep it in their loin cloths! What really irritates me that creatures like this should be considered equal, their constant disgusting behaviour only ratifies a justification of slavery and the KKK.

  5. CO, from somebody who lives in the USA, I find your comments a teenie bit strange. The Great Satan is forever poking its nose into the affairs of other countries. The point about being members of the International Criminal Court is, I suppose, that certain crimes fall within every signatory’s jurisdiction. It just so happens that SA is the major power in these parts and so it falls on our boys to form the posse, though I do not suppose anything will actually happen, unless, in the unlikely event that anybody is found guilty, he or they should attempt to enter this country, in which case they might be arrested. Phew.

    As for the rest of your observations, I could not possibly comment, except to say I do not feel that I owe reparations even though several ancestors of mine were slave traders and owners.

  6. Sipu: a number of my ancestors were African slaves. Even if you offered me money I would refuse it as I had personally done nothing to earn it. Leave the dead in their graves I say.

  7. Janus :

    “Sweden’s unique definition of rape is surely there to assuage the female electorate.” Are you suggesting they shouldn’t get involved in the legislative process?

    I am asking this again, because it is fundamental to the idea of justice – which is not about ‘assuaging’ (calming, mollifying, sweetening) one sector of society but establishing codes of behaviour which reflect the standards of the society.

    Suggesting that wider rape laws are to ‘assuage’ women is like suggesting wider burglary laws are to ‘assuage’ people with valuable property. It misses the point.

  8. Janus, you are well aware that I consider you intellectually incapable of presenting a rational argument, so please stop bothering me.

  9. Your ability to judge anyone’s intellectual capability is severely handicapped by your inbred sense of superiority – which ignores rational argument whenever it is convenient – because it bothers you. What is the superlative of pathetic?

  10. Christopher, I could not agree with you more. Hanging on to old grudges and injustices is self-destructive. I think the Jews/Israelis and Africans, whether they be descendants of slaves or colonized people, do themselves no favours by constantly looking back. Let the dead bury the dead.

  11. Sipu: I’ve found Israelis to be quite different. They never show me any malice or chide me about the Second World War or any other pogrom Jews have had to endure. Rather, they’re keenly aware of how precarious their place in the world is. They have not forgotten why they’re in Israel be it the Holocaust in Europe or extreme persecution in the former USSR and North Africa/Middle East. Most Israeli Jews, after all, are Sephardim — not Ashkenazim. They’re also keenly aware that the same pseudo-intellectual anti-Semitism that laid the groundwork for their destruction in the past has never gone away, hence their tendency to be extremely defensive. Considering the thousands of missiles launched into Israel and the successful Soviet attempt to de-legitimise them they have every reason to be concerned. The situation in Africa is very different. By now they should have figured something out and accepted that they have been their own worst enemies.

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