Thursday, 30 October 2014

Nine life sentences and 15 years …

Yesterday I watched SABC news (as I often do). Almost every evening a number of court cases are reported. Of course the most famous:
Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for the culpable homicide (manslaughter) of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
according to Channel 4 (where one can get the whole story).

Another well-known case is about Shrien Dewani who allegedly plotted to murder his wife, Swedish Anni Dewani, on their honey moon in Gugulethu, Cape Town in 2010. This case is still on. The Guardian have more on this.

The worst case, however, I saw yesterday. Ntokozo Hadebe was sentenced to nine life sentences plus 15 years. That amounts to 240 years. I cannot believe it. I mean, the sentence is probably fair. But how can a person do so much evil? He raped and killed three children in Diepsloot. Enca gives the full story.

Those three cases are definitely different. Shrien Dewani is not even found guilty, hence he is innocent. Pistorius was not sentenced to murder but the lower culpable homicide. Hadebe is sentenced and found guilty to such an extent that he will never become a free man.

This evokes a number of questions but one is nagging me: how can a person end up like this? What does forgiveness and reconciliation mean, when we talk about somebody who has committed this kind of atrocities?

I will not try to answer them. The parents of the murdered will never get their children back. It is probably unbearable. I am praying that they will find strength.

But I also pray that those who are either accused or sentenced will find some mercy, somewhere. I pray that prison warders will be able to show some sort of empathy.

Lord, have mercy!


Matilda said...

I am constantly torn between what I think is right in situations like the ones you write about. Becasue of course, if a person does something wrong he/she needs to be punished, but to what extent? When it comes to rape, the person who was raped has to live with it the rest of his/her life. Now is it fair that the rapist can be freed after just a few years? Is it possible to forgive a person who has raped you? Maybe it is necessary to be able to move on. I pray to God I never have to find out. And with murder, the person who was murdered will never live again and the family of the victim are affected for life. Is it right that the murderer can carry on living while the person he/she killed is dead? Oh such difficult questions.

Anders Göranzon said...

Yes, Matilda! I often think of a mother in South Africa who lost her son during apartheid. The special branch (security police) killed him, chopped him and threw him in a river. Many years thereafter one of the policemen (who actually was convicted and not appeared before the TRC) became terminally ill in the prison. In media a discussion began: could he be released? I think he had cancer. The mother of the murdered boy was asked whether or not she was prepared to forgive the policeman. She answered:
I will not be able to forgive him. But God can forgive anyone!

Matilda said...

She is so right! That probably helped her move on, knowing that someone else could forgive that man and that she didn't have to. Cause it would be very strange if she could forgive him! Because how could she? That's one of the differences between God and human beings. God is almighty and forgives everyone.

Anders Göranzon said...

But often we also manage to forgive, with God's help.