Residents protested outside the Chatsworth police station last week, after the murder of 9-year-old Sadia Sukhraj in a botched hijacking. Picture: Supplied
OPINION - With the untimely tragic loss of 9-year-old Sadia Sukraj, in a hijacking, emotions ran high in the Chatsworth community.

Residents protested against the bail application of the accused and pleaded for justice to be served.

The Chatsworth community stood united to stop crime. People across the world watched as men, women, children and the elderly were tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets.

Many sustained serious injuries, including a pensioner who waited three hours in a cell before police took him for surgery, when his leg was broken in the pandemonium.

Police Minister Bheki Cele reported, in relation to the attempted hijacking, that: “We have arrested a man who has a string of criminal cases carhijacking and attempted murder.

"I am told he was sentenced to seven years in 2013. I don't know how people like him get parole.

"The one that is dead also has a long list of criminal activity so does the third one.”

All three of the accused had been arrested, charged and jailed previously for their crimes, and were released despite their horrific criminal records.

Cele stated: “Hopefully they get life sentences because they have a string of crimes against them.”

Hopefully?! Hope is a dream, Mr Cele, but implementation is practical. The Justice Department must implement a law compelling all hardcore criminals to serve life sentences, with no possibility of parole. Either that, or we demand that government bring back the death penalty.

Murder is punishable by death or life imprisonment in certain parts of the United States. In Saudi Arabia criminals are immediately sentenced to death for murder.

These strict laws are why these countries do not have the massive crime statistics we do. It is a deterrent to would-be criminals.

We need to also implement swift justice for the safety of all South Africans.

Some argue that there is overcrowding in prisons, with insufficient space for long-term convicts. As a result, first-time offenders are usually released long before their full sentence is served.

Research suggests that more than 80% of freed first-time law-breakers become repeat offenders (Nicro Public Education Series, 2014). The government must put aside money to build new prisons in each province to manage the overflow. Priority should be given to the safety of our citizens.

After the Chatsworth community protest, crime did not stop. A father was killed in front of his children in another hijacking in Avoca.

Criminals have not been fazed by any strategy meant to stop them. If anything, it has made them even more brazen in their revolt against the police. These hardened criminals need to understand that South Africans will not tolerate this kind of behaviour anymore.

We are rising up against crime! We will not let another daughter die in vain. We will not stand by as another father is murdered in front of his children. We will not watch as our families suffer.

We will never go quietly into the night. We will fight to protect our families by any means possible. Criminals beware! I stand with the people of Chatsworth!

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