Sun | Jan 23, 2022

‘Vigilante justice’ is not justice

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM


THIS Last week, a young man with some mental-health issues was beaten to death and burnt beyond recognition. The media called it jungle justice. Justice? The claim is that after the body of a murdered eight-year-old girl was found, he was not forthcoming with information some in the community felt he had.

I do not know the parties in this matter. What I do know is what I discovered as a social researcher. And that is, on several occasions so-called ‘angry’ people, overcome with an urgent need for justice, slaughter another person who is suspected to be the offender. And there it ends.

But there is another side to this vigilantism. In many cases, the persons behind this vigilante justice is either the real perpetrator or connected to the real perpetrator. There is a reason why this is unacceptable. Quite apart from the barbarity and the lasting effect on onlookers, this arrangement is not reliable. This is why the police investigate and arrest, but they do not preside over the trial and sentencing. A trial offers a degree of fairness and openness, giving the accused a chance to state his case.

Sitting miles away from the crime scene, with only partial information, I deduced that this young man did not have the opportunity to commit this crime. But he never got a chance to put up a defence. And he has mental issues, so he is a convenient target.

Whenever this happens, the police promise but rarely follow up with investigations. This is not good.

May I suggest that the police treat these ‘jungle justice’ cases with the suspicion they deserve and make arrests.