Justice deferred through a thorough process of removing all doubt and obstacles is better than justice denied, says Saber A Jazbhay.
Let’s be patient but vigilant at all times.
The symbol of justice is that of a blind lady holding a balanced scale in one hand and a sword in the other hand. So it is that every person suspected or accused of the most heinous of crimes is entitled to fairness and equality of treatment. The Bill of Rights in our constitution prescribes no less.
Due process and the rule of law are pivotal to the outcomes of justice.
Our constitution enshrines this expectation and to detract from this would let loose the sort of anarchy and vigilantism reminiscent of revolutions where even remotely suspected people find themselves in extreme prejudice.
Closer to home, we see how those frustrated by perceived delays resort to “mob” justice ruled by retribution and revenge and in execution thereof take to murdering hapless suspects with the most brutal means producing gruesome outcomes.
So it is with Shrien Dewani and his latest bid (there could, in all probability, be others) to avoid extradition to South Africa to face murder charges related to the death of his wife Anni while on honeymoon.
His expectations are to be treated fairly and justly even though he has resorted to questionable means and stratagems to avoid facing our justice system.
Frustrated we may be, but we must not succumb to silent and subliminal prejudices and fears, coupled with the baying for blood, when we await the outcome that Anni Dewani’s family patiently and painfully awaits.
This is not about innocence or guilt. We must leave that to our impartial justice system peopled by highly skilled and trained judges and prosecutorial teams focused on ensuring that justice is done. If mistakes or lapses happen it is because of human error or human engineered results.
I prefer that it takes all the time to ensure that justice is done for I am wary, given the fluid dynamics in our transient world, how possible it is that even innocent people have been sentenced and put to death or sentenced to life imprisonment because of egregious lapses in observing the highest standards one would expect so as to ensure fair and just outcomes.
I prefer that rather a guilty person walks free than an innocent person be convicted and sentenced. As in the case of someone sentenced and put to death the damage cannot be undone and not even a posthumous discharge or acquittal would restore justice.
We must publicly acknowledge and applaud the dogged persistence on the part of officials in the South African Justice Department to ensure that justice is done with the highest professional standards expected and being observed by the world.
Let us not drop those standards now.
Saber A Jazbhay
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.