The Veracity of Restorative Justice Gaining Support in South Africa
Restorative justice has materialised greatly in South Africa’s jurisprudence, legislation, writings and practices. Is this a sign that restorative justice is gaining support in South Africa? To evaluate the veracity of this statement one will have to know the difference between traditional justice and restorative justice, in which the latter case is a less punitive punishment compared to the other. One will also need to take into account South African legislation and case law.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is an approach to achieve reconciliation between the parties involved in a crime and other people who were affected by the harm done. Restorative justice is seen as a distinctive process. It is also seen as a set of unique values. Restorative justice is seen as being guided by the value of healing; whereas the criminal justice system (traditional justice) usually used compensates the hurt of crime with the hurt of punishment. Traditional justice tends to focus more on the crime that has been committed whereas restorative justice places emphasis on the future. It is further seen as an application of the spiritual teaching of criminal justice as well as a theory of social justice. Moreover, it has also been stated that restorative justice should be adopted as a lifestyle. Thus insinuating that we as a society should take to heart the values and principles of restorative justice and apply it in our individual lives. Restorative justice strives to achieve its primary objectives. These objectives involve taking the victim’s needs and circumstances into account. This objective is also extended to people who are close to the victim such as a spouse or parent. This objective was clearly seen in the S v Thabethe case. The court took into account that the offender was the breadwinner of the family and imprisonment would thus deprive his family financially. Another objective is that restorative justice aims to prevent the offender from committing the same crime again. Restorative justice also gives offenders the chance to own up to their actions. Judge Bertelsmann J confirms the two points mentioned above in the case of S v Maluleke. He stated that if restorative justice were used in appropriate circumstances, it would have a huge impact on preventing offenders from committing the same crimes again as it would encourage the offenders to take individual responsibility for their unlawful actions. This would thus aid in the process of the offenders returning and becoming part of society again. Lastly, restorative justice provides ways that prevent the increase of legal justice as well as the costs and interruptions that were involved.
Restorative Justice Jurisprudence
The judiciary of South Africa has not overlooked the progression of restorative justice. The Associations of Regional Court Magistrates of South Africa held a conference concerning...