Think again

Koert Meyer, Welgelegen

The writer of the letter “Senseless killings”, (Plainsman, June 8), paints a grim picture of our young democracy’s relentless fight against crime.

I trust that this response will be afforded equal prominence.

Whereas nobody of sound mind can deny this huge problem, to suggest that “corrupt officials must be sent to the gallows” is absolutely ludicrous.

Our country, just like many others, had the death penalty as a form of ultimate punishment during the evil colonial and apartheid eras until we realised that it does far more damage, doesn’t solve anything and has no deterrent value at all. It always degenerates into far more devastating ill-practices, such as extra-judicial killings, elimination of political rivals, the execution of people who choose to change from one religion to another, etc.

The problem with these modern-day Goebbelses is that they harp on with their oft-repeated lies, myths, distortions, generalisa-tions and exaggerations to give impetus to their outdated and dangerous beliefs.

The gullible and fearful public believe them and also climb on their bandwagon only to realise the deadly consequences much later.

The death penalty is, by itself, a violent act, therefore we see night after night on our TV screens how countries that built their futures on this warped idea of punishment implode one after the other.

All eleven eminent judges of our Consti-tutional Court ruled with a decisive and unanimous 11-0 vote in 1995 that the death penalty was degrading and a crime against humanity, never ever to be brought back to our shores.

The notorious gallows in Pretoria, where up to seven people could be hanged simultaneously, has been dismantled. So must the newly sentenced be sent to Botswana, Zimbabwe or Swaziland, the latter two still advertising for hangmen for years now?

Now why would this writer deviate from this noble course and stir up emotions. Our desperate situation will not improve by executing a few criminals now and then.

Another Goebbels, in countless letters to newspapers, is making no bones about “death for all those who are a threat to our well-being” such as drug-addicts, murderers, rapists, gangsters and terrorists.

Apart from misleading societies to believe that the death penalty will rid them of those they regard as “scum”, it also takes them firstly to dead-ends and then the abyss. America is a good example. All their death penalty states’ jails are overflowing under world pressure from human rights groups. And this so-called most powerful state on earth is one of the world’s most violent, reeling under constant mass killings.

America has 30 000 gun-related deaths every year.

Since 1976 when the death penalty was reintroduced in America, they could only manage to execute about 3 000.

In one of their most notorious jails, St Quentin in California, there were at one stage last year 712 death row inmates, some going insane after decades of torturous incarceration.

This writer, like I ask of all lovers of the death penalty, must tell us how they intend killing more than 18 000 murderers, if they are all caught, found guilty and sentenced. And the wealthy and influential, who are treated differently? What about rapists, gangsters and drunk drivers, also responsible for killing people? Must we again see gas chambers, death squads and mass stonings?

Please, sit still and think rationally about such emotive issues before rushing off to newspapers with your insane ideas. Anyone that supports the death penalty is himself a potential murderer.