Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dateline...South Africa

Dining coming to South Africa??

The highlights....

The savage rape and murder of three generations of a family during a carjacking in which a baby was executed in front of her mother has led to widespread calls for the return of the death penalty in South Africa.

During the ordeal, one of the victims, the baby's 24-year-old mother Janine Drennen, managed to send two desperate text messages to her fiance, Clifford Rawstone. "Hijack", read the first. The second one pleaded: "Call cops".

The police, who describe the murders late last month as the "most gruesome" they have ever experienced, believe that the gunmen caught Miss Drennen sending the messages, prompting the vengeful killing spree.

South Africans have grown wearily accustomed to violent crime since the end of apartheid in 1994, but the depravity of this attack has focused attention on the government's failure to deal with the crime epidemic. The government, which has suppressed the publication of crime statistics for two years, said last week it was satisfied that crime levels were "stabilising" - a claim met with disbelief by lawyers in South Africa who say that fewer than one in 10 violent crimes ever result in conviction owing to poor policing methods.

More than 20,000 cars are hijacked in South Africa each year, often at gunpoint, but few attacks end in such extreme violence. The incident prompted 8,000 people to e-mail the Justice Department on one day alone, calling for the death penalty - which was abolished in 1995 by the African National Congress - to be reintroduced.

...Though the government refuses to release crime statistics, research conducted for the country's Law Commission and seen by The Telegraph shows that for every 100 violent crimes reported to the police, only six alleged perpetrators were convicted after more than two years. Convictions were obtained in only 10 per cent or murder cases and in less than one in 20 cases of adult rape or aggravated robbery.