South Africa’s criminal justice system is confusing. Not because it is littered jargon about clauses and by-laws (any self-respecting Suits and The Good Wife fan can figure that out) but rather because of its vacillating treatment of those in pursuit of justice.
Roughly between 4% and 8% of reported sexual violence cases ends in conviction. This is not because perpetrators have Harvey Spectre-esque defence teams that ruthlessly and lawlessly fight for their client’s innocence. Instead, the system itself is letting survivors down.
However, with the case of the ‘Rhodes Memorial Rapist’, it seems that the Criminal Justice System seems to have undergone some kind of reincarnation. Mthunzi Hlomane was sentenced to 9 life sentences which effectively means he will be behind bars for a total of 108 years. It seems that in this life, the Criminal Justice System is capable of successfully delivering justice to survivors of sexual violence. The whole case was resolved before the end of the year, the punishment fits the crime, a bad man will be behind bars for the rest of his life and—as Judge Mushtak Parker said—this process will help the survivors find closure “sooner rather than later”. The National Prosecuting Authority was also available for comment saying that this sentence “confirms our resolve to prioritise crimes against women and children and sexual violence”. It all sounds great and doable and faith in our justice system can be restored. Long live the Criminal Justice System (for this life, anyway)!