The Star mentions Wits Justice Project

Kevin Ritchie, deputy editor of The Star, recently wrote an editorial commending The Wits Justice Project for our efforts in highlighting the plight of those in remand detention. Here is the editorial:



There’s something desperately sad about the plight of an awaiting trial detainee who had to be talked down from a three-storey wall at Johannesburg Prison this week.

He wanted to draw attention to his plight: he doesn’t have money for bail and just wanted to go home. Now, for his troubles, he’s going to be charged with malicious damage to property.

The issue here is two-fold; the Hobbesian state of nature that is our awaiting trial system, in which suspects get locked up and brutalised for years before the case comes to trial- if ever- and the constitutional imperative that we are all innocent until proven guilty.

It is this presupposition that underpins the bail system. It is abject poverty that leads to incarceration, not guilt. As a result, our already over-stretched prisons are further over crowded and offenders who might otherwise have been candidates for rehabilitation become hardened criminals. On top of this, people who might very well be ultimatelty proved to be innocent are punished.

Thanks to the efforts of the Wits Justice Project, we have been able to showcase much of what is wrong with this system. This week, though, shows just how much needs to be done if we are to fix something that, in truth, cuts a hole in the fabric of our constitution.


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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