Mail and Guardian journalist Athandiwe Saba writes about the nuances of 'Lion Mama', the woman who stabbed three men, killing one, to save her daughter. Saba interviews WJP's Ruth Hopkins about her experiences with convicted woman who also pleaded self-defense.
An Eastern Cape woman - now affectionately referred to as “Lion Mama” after reports of her killing one of three men who were allegedly gang raping her daughter - has sent a ripple of celebrations across the country following a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw all charges against her. However, where South African women who kill their abusive, violent partners in life threatening situations are concerned, the same is seldom assured.
A sophisticated iteration of musical chairs last week saw 34 of some of SA’s most high-ranking judicial personnel take turns in the hot seat during a series of interviews for various senior positions conducted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Representative of the tensions between the judiciary and government, Justice Mogoeng and Minister Mbalula’s recent comments to police seem diametrically opposed.
In 1985 two white men, Schalk Burger and George Scheepers, were sentenced to be hanged in Klerksdorp for the murder and rape of a black woman named Ginny Gotsoine. The men pleaded not guilty despite DNA evidence and eye witnesses who caught them in the act. The Consitutional Court abolished the death penalty in June 1995 in the case S vs Makwanyane, stating that it violates the right to life and the right to dignity.
The “Massive Mandela Masterpiece” (MMM) project, aimed at creating the largest portrait blanket in the world, was launched at Zonderwater Correctional Centre near Cullinan last week. Participating inmates at eighty prisons around SA will help knit a 4,500 square meter blanket resulting from a unique partnership between ‘67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). With every black or grey blanket representing just one pixel, the ambitious project driven by 67 Blankets founder Carolyn Steyn will ensure Madiba’s face is visible from outer space.
Law Focus, a show on the Wits University radio station, VowFM, together with the Wits Justice Project produced a radio show on the ongoing parole protests happening in South African prisons.
For various reasons, the release of a prisoner is a contentious issue in any society. This week Law Focus brings the spotlight onto parole law. Parole is the conditional release of prisoners before they complete their sentence. Paroled prisoners are supervised by a public official, usually called a parole officer. If paroled prisoners violate the conditions of their release, they may be returned to prison. Prisoners serving life and long term sentences at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison went to protest early this month with the outcry that their parole is mishandled.
To shed light on these matters, this week’s show opens with Spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services Singabakho Nxumalo. We are also joined by Frank Mbedzi who is the Chairperson of the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights, and later on behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights’ Clare Ballard who heads the penal reform programme.
Listen to it here
South Africa’s most famous ex-prisoner wrote in his autobiography that “no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails”. In this factsheet, we provide data to show what’s going on inside South African prisons.
It is important that we remember the sacrifices older generations have made for South Africa, but in order to truly heal we need to recognise and acknowledge the pain we all feel and the burden we carry from our past.
The Wits Justice Project seeks to appoint a Journalism Intern, based in Johannesburg.