reply to post by Monkeygod333
However, the following situation could also happen under the "common purpose law".
For example, a student takes the train to go to college in an urban center, and after disembarking he walks up the street and suddenly finds himself
in a demonstration.
Things suddenly turn violent and the police kill some people.
In the chaos the cops then grab the student and charge him as a murderer for the people they killed.
That's pretty close to how "common purpose" was used during the late 1980s, except that it was in township situations where cadres did kill people
before crowds, but not all the people arrested were willfully or intentionally in that crowd, or involved in the crimes.
Innocent people were sentenced to death under that law, although I believe all were pardoned after major international and local outrage, and
So this law does have a loaded political history, especially for the ANC, and the recent comparisons to the apartheid state must sit very
uncomfortably with them.
I can understand that most South African want the police to be tough on violent crime, but there are also rouge elements and criminals in the police,
and the wider use of such laws can be abused.
Policing is also not always professional or unbiased.
I think of a home-owner whose defense against an intruder is already highly limited in a legal sense.
What if the cops shoot the intruder and then charge the homeowner with murder for forcing their hand?
It's a very slippery slope.
It's also unsure to what extent these miners are regarded as criminals.
Currently there are very divergent accounts of the events on that day.
One account sees the police as acting in self-defense against an armed and violent mob.
Another (shown on Carte Blanche yesterday) views the police as arriving with no intentions for crowd control, driving part of the crowd into a turkey
shoot, and then massacring more miners on the other side of hill, and driving over some lying on the ground.
I'm not going to judge which view is correct.
What's relevant is that the miners could have easily become a catalyst for wider political action.
Unlike two common criminals in a heist, there was mass community support for these miners, which would only have snow-balled.
They would have been denied initial bail, and then languished in jail until their trial (probably only next year), with a health and legal system that
was simply too over-burdened to cope, all at the expense of the taxpayer.
Meanwhile there probably would have been mass strikes, possibly laying the whole country lame, and the political opportunists would have upped the
And for what?
Not a single legal expert could see the charges sticking at their trial, and the rationale was never explained.
So I'm glad a lot of them were released this evening.
Charging citizens for crimes they blatantly didn't commit (murdering their own colleagues who were visibly shot by the police), really wouldn't make
me feel any safer against criminals.
In fact, the ramifications of such a blatant injustice both locally and internationally was becoming quite concerning.
Hopefully that situation will now deflate somewhat, instead of a constant questioning of why the miners were kept in jail on false charges, and what
the state was trying to hide.
A state secure of its own legitimacy wouldn't resort to such obscure tactics.
If such laws are used, for example, to catch a mastermind behind a heist who had a clear intent of risking the lives of his henchmen (I heard in the
UK it's called the "lazy cop" law) then sure, but in this case it seemed very inappropriate and baffling outside political factionalism.
Of course having the charges suddenly dropped could also be political interfering from another faction behind the scenes, although it wasn't really
surprising, and it's probably foolish to think that any of these bodies like the NPA are truly independent.
But all things considered, it was the right choice in this case.
For the speculative Greg Marinovitch interview on Carte Blanche (broadcast on the 02 September 2012) see:
edit on 3-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)