'SA has the harshest minimum sentences in the world'

The scourge of gender-based violence in the country has sparked conversations around bringing back the death penalty.

On Tuesday, the justice, crime prevention and security cluster ministers outlined plans to deal with gender-based violence (GBV) which include strengthening the police to ensure speedy arrests of perpetrators of GBV.

They also announced that the law should make provision that those convicted of sexual crimes not be granted parole.

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Senior Researcher in the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies Dr Andrew Faull and head of the Penal Reform Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights Clare Ballard.

Faull says the current state of violence in South Africa is not as a result of the lenient state.

It is important for us to realise that there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty deters or reduces crime anywhere. It is also important to realise that South Africa had rates of gender-based violence when we did have the death penalty.

Dr Andrew Faull, Senior Researcher - Institute for Security Studies

We have some of the harshest minimum sentences in the world and we have seen the fastest increase in life sentences in South Africa over 80% in the last 15 years which is more than any other country. We are not a lenient state.

Dr Andrew Faull, Senior Researcher - Institute for Security Studies

Balland says she is disappointed about responses leaders gave on gender-based violence.

There was an opportunity from our leaders to really talk about what crime prevention in these circumstances would really entail and again we fall on what I call default responses of which is harsher punishments, no bail etc.

Clare Ballard, Attorney & Programme Manager Penal Reform - Lawyers For Human Rights

We already have harsh punishments, it is already very difficult to get bail for most serious crimes. The conversation should have gone to something a lot more productive in the space of crime prevention.

Clare Ballard, Attorney & Programme Manager Penal Reform - Lawyers For Human Rights

Listen to the full discussion below...


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'SA has the harshest minimum sentences in the world'


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