Our constitution needs preventative clause on extradition

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THE ruling by the Constitutional Court barring the Department of Home Affairs from deporting a citizen of Botswana back to his country where he is wanted for murder must have saddened many law-abiding SA citizens.

In short, what this decision means is that SA has declared itself a safe haven for murderers who would otherwise be hanged in their own countries. It also means that for citizens of countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe where the death penalty is practised, killing someone in their home country and fleeing to SA, guarantees criminals permanent residence in SA, something which law-abiding foreigners find almost impossible to obtain.

Once in SA, there is no guarantee that such murderers will not kill locals, which would earn them a life term, living in relative luxury compared to jail conditions in countries such as Zimbabwe where even ordinary prisoners who are not on death row often die because of the horrible conditions behind bars. And all this at the expense of the SA taxpayer.

While I am not challenging the ruling of the Constitutional Court as it is simply adjudicating the law, I wish to call upon the law makers of this country to expeditiously amend the constitution to include a clause which will allow the Department of Home Affairs to deport murderers back to their countries of origin, before SA becomes the international destination of choice for the world’s murderers.

Parliament has a duty to make laws which make SA citizens safer, and to get rid of any laws which will expose SA to murderers, especially foreigners.

I know that SA has an inflexible constitution, but it is not cast in stone, and can be amended with the necessary majority in Parliament.

Section 74 of our constitution empowers our Parliament to amend even Section 1 which deals with fundamental principles, by a supporting vote of at least 75 percent in the National Assembly, and that of at least six provinces in the National Council of Provinces.

An amendment to allow for the deportation of murderers will probably require only a two-thirds majority (67 percent) in the National Assembly and the support of at least six provinces.

For SA to harbour criminals from other countries simply because those countries apply the death penalty to their murderous citizens, amounts to interference in the affairs of sovereign states.

SA risks being accused of exhibiting a Big Brother mentality by insisting that a sovereign country like Botswana must first give an undertaking that it will not execute its citizen who is accused of murder, if he is deported back to that country.

While human rights activists may cry foul if the citizen of Botswana is deported back to his country to possibly face the death penalty, I sincerely believe that only law-abiding foreigners should be protected by SA’s laws, rather than shielding murderers from the wrath of their own countries’ laws.

He who kills must also be killed – fair and square.

My opinion is that SA should not even protect its own citizens from the gallows if they decide to take other people’s lives. I am of the opinion that if SA is a true democracy as the people are made to believe, it must organise a referendum and allow the people to decide on whether we should have the death penalty or not, as it seems so necessary in our crime-ridden nation. Most people whom I have spoken to about this issue, are in favour of the death penalty, simply because people are no longer safe even in their own homes.

It is extremely painful for someone to kill and then be given a life sentence, only to walk free again after 20 or so years, and live to possibly kill again.


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