Restorative Justice in South Africa - Can It work?

1342 Words 6 Pages
Introduction
In a society filled with crime, violence, and corruption prisons are overflowing and imprisonment often creates more hardened criminals, rather than creating rehabilitated persons. South Africa needs to adopt a less putative approach to the punishment of crimes, and restorative justice can either help achieve this or only worsen matters. In this essay I will evaluate this punishment theory with regard to case law, legislation and various implementations relating to the matter. In evaluating these, I will develop my own opinion on restorative justice and its efficacy in a South African context.
Restorative justice: background and history
The main aim of restorative justice is to involve the perpetrator, the victim and the
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The project started by NICRO was targeted at pre-trial and pre-sentence stages of the criminal procedure. It was reported that the prosecutors were hesitant to refer serious crimes. Therefore the referrals were mainly juvenile offenders. Despite this, NICRO now also focuses on adults and is still successful today. Following this there were several other programmes instituted, some which still exist today such as the Restorative Justice Centre in Pretoria.
The application of restorative justice in South African law
Most restorative justice projects are run by non-profit organisations, particularly with cases dealing with crimes of a less serious nature. These cases are often dealt with through diversion or non-custodial sentencing. Hence, these cases often go unreported and not much precedent exists with regard to this punishment theory. Further, there is no legislation available regarding this punishment theory, except in the context of child offenders. In the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008, one of aims of the Act is to “expand and entrench the principles of restorative justice in the criminal justice system for children who are in conflict with the law, while ensuring their responsibility and accountability for crimes committed.” This Act came into being in 2010, and was aimed at youth, mainly through diversion programmes. With these diversion programmes, the