You have to understand something about parole - it is not a God given right in law. It must be earned and the reasoning behind it is firstly to give the inmate a chance to behave properly and to be released earlier because he behaved. Also, if you are as cynical as me and everyone else involved with law for longer than two minutes, you will know the jails are way too overcrowded and needs to be emptied constantly. So the parole system is to help reduce the inmate population. That is the real reason behind the scenes.
Obviously, many (most in fact) of the released inmates will commit crimes again. They don’t have much choice, according to some liberals, they are unable to find jobs (you cannot even find a job without a record) and they need to live, and hence they rob and steal and rape and murder and whatever else you care to mention. Recently, meaning in the last decade, we saw many victims of such crimes hammering the State with civil law suits and winning. Quite rightly so, if the inmate stayed inside the jail he would have committed the crimes outside.
Hence it stands to reason that the parole board has a terribly difficult time to decide who must be released and who not. They are bound by the law as is everyone else (in theory) and often make mistakes which hit the headlines. As now with Pistorius and let me say he would be extremely lucky not have the Appeal Court overturn his conviction to murder. I and most other lawyers I know (I speak to a few now and then, I have to) believe he will be find guilty of murder and have his sentence increased to at least 15 years. If not, he beat the system and good luck to him also. The point is, as I read the news (always dangerous, it is seldom correctly reported) his parole was agreed to even before the one sixth of his sentence was completed hence making it inherently illegal and I am sure, the Minister was correct in stopping it. I have to wonder also, with his staying inside the prison hospital which is five star treatment, how the parole board could have decided whether he behaved properly or not. That hospital stay I can tell you, is not normal, you would be extremely blessed to be kept in a single cell away from the rest of the inmates. It is only done to celebrities, not the guy on the street.
Jails are not nice places to be in. That story you hear repeated about “a nice holiday and food and shelter” has to be put in perspective...no privacy, surrounded by criminals, danger of being raped and abused and bad food and of course, away from your family and extreme boredom since there is very little real rehabilitation programs (none works). And there are other nastiness in jail. You are alone.
During World War Two quite a few men escaped from prisoner of war camps. Movies were made about it, some good and others so so but not one of the movies reflected the overriding motive for escape, sex. Yes, when a young man is locked up and kept away from natural instincts he starts thinking of a place where someone special, a female, is waiting for him. This you can read in their books, it is not in the Hollywood ideas of manly companionship. Also food, some prisoners almost starved to death and it was much worse in the East under the Japanese. Thinking about it, jail life really is not where you want to be. I say again, it is not easy and a real punishment. Everyone looks forward to parole and those doing life, well, they are resigned and dangerous as they have nothing further to lose, they have no parole options, not when they are 234 years old. I find the criticism of the Ministers decision on cancelling Pistorius’s parole disturbing and especially the notion it is racially based. Such views show you have no idea what the law says and are speculating. Let it go.
What is racist and plain stupid in my view is the alleged text send by our national police commissioner to a DA parliament member and I understand it is admitted that it came from the commissioner’s mobile phone (which is not to say she wrote it) but if she did the pong of rotting bananas is really strong. Whenever someone starts playing the “you don’t like me because I am black / or pink / or white card you know (1) weak argument, (2) no self confidence and (3) probably guilty” of whatever your are accused off. It is pathetic and uncalled for to do such things. It is also unheard off that such a text could be send and it will be interesting to see what happens now. Probably nothing, banana smelling, but in any other country she would have been dismissed as unbecoming her office. And if you believe that was not a threat, you are silly, it was a clear threat and I would advise the receiver to lay criminal charges immediately.
I said so many times that is is becoming boring to me too that a police commissioner cannot be appointed from the side and expected to be successful. They tried three times now and the results are failure with a capital F each time. It is a job like no other and unless you were in the police for many years you will fail. You also look like an idiot in the uniform as it takes more than getting dressed, it takes an attitude what these civilians just don’t have. So it is another joke but one with very serious consequences.
And then I read, astonished, it now takes nineteen minutes for the police to arrive a priority crime taking place. Yes, nineteen minutes. Do you want to know what our response time limit was in 1988 when I was a young sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad? Three minutes or the Colonel, bless his soul, wanted to know why you have such bad manners in not appreciating the fast Ford Sierra XR6 the Commissioner issued to you. Perhaps you don’t have what it takes to be in the elite Flying Squads and he can arrange your transfer to Soweto. And so you got to the crime scene in three minutes or less. Yeah, you can read about this in my police autobiography Mean Streets and then wonder why we are today three times worse off. Well, perhaps we can sue them for that too.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.