Recently the shopkeeper from whom I buy my Cape Argus spoke to me about crime. Every week he has to fight with shoplifters. The issues were the usual, when is the crime and demand for free services going to end. The shopkeeper, who works long hours, is buckling under the burden placed on those who pay taxes. His ability to provide for his family is tested daily by those who shoplift.

Centuries ago, the Torah, Bible and Quraan was sent by the God of Abraham as books of guidance to help society regulate behaviour. Recently, the Chief Justice of South Africa spoke about the possibility of incorporating religious based values into law. In many societies people prefer to live as they please. Thus issues of law and justice have become issues of interpretation.

Ironically every generation blames the one before and every generation believes that they are the smartest. As a result, few people appreciate history and therefore regularly repeat proven mistakes.

For example, two decades ago a few people without asking rescinded the death penalty in South Africa. Statistics for the year ended April 2012 indicated an annual 15 609 murders. This equates to 43 murders a day. Our murder rate is four and a half times the global average. Judge Desai Chairman of the National Council of Correctional Services has said that the problem of overcrowded prisons had worsened due to the large numbers serving life sentences. According to Desai “when the country abolished the death penalty, it did not consider how it would deal with life sentences”.

For the sake of argument, I reason that the average murderer would take 5 years in jail, since the risk of getting caught is minimal to begin with. Conversely, would a murderer or child rapist be at ease if the result is death? If a hand or foot is cut-off for stealing R100 000 of public funds, would corruption be viable for officials and politicians?

If millions of teenagers repeatedly saw the lashing of a drug addicted teen who refuses to pay child support on national TV, how many will avoid the scourge of teen pregnancies that is sweeping our nation? Imagine the billions saved on free welfare, housing and medical care? Sustainable and planned families, implies less waste and improved salaries for teachers and hospital staff etc.

A few years ago, local taxpayers paid a Swiss man R500 million. He lost an arm and a leg in a motorbike accident. The South African driver who drove on the wrong side of the road admitted to reckless and negligent driving and to fleeing the scene after the accident. He paid a R500 fine.

In the words of the wise, our system of justice has failed and honest not academic action is required. Who or what are we waiting for?

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress