Compensation Bill Seeks to Help Crime's Victims

Cape Times (South Africa), July 31, 2006 | Go to article overview

Compensation Bill Seeks to Help Crime's Victims


BYLINE: Dianne Kohler Barnard

The Democratic Alliance recently submitted a Private Member's Bill to parliament which seeks to establish a state fund to compensate victims of violent crime.

South Africa suffers from one of the worst crime rates in the world, a fact that is well illustrated by the figures released from time to time by the Minister of Safety and Security and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Violent crime in particular is extremely prevalent.

It does not matter who you are or where you live, you and your family will have experienced the devastating effects of crime in one form or another.

The SAPS has had limited success in apprehending the perpetrators of such crimes, and the current levels of violent crime show no immediate prospect of abating.

Unfortunately, the ANC government refuses to acknowledge the extent of the problem and does not give the victims of crime the respect and support that is their due.

Victims and those who raise their plight in parliament are labelled "whingers" and told to leave the country; and crime statistics are withheld and manipulated to give the impression that high levels of crime are acceptable.

The state constantly refuses to give the proper attention and resources to our policemen and policewomen to enable them to fight crime effectively.

There are three parts to any comprehensive strategy to tackle crime:

First, you need a comprehensive plan to stop future crimes from happening - crime prevention.

Second, you need detection and prosecution services which ensure crime doesn't pay, by arresting and convicting criminals.

Third, you need a strategy to support those who have already suffered the consequences of crime.

The DA has produced a great many proposals to help prevent crime and bring criminals to book, some of which - such as our campaign to place 150 000 cops on the street - have been adopted by government. We will continue to produce these policies.

With the launch of this bill, however, the DA is addressing the third element of the fight against crime - how to support people who have suffered because of crime.

While the attention of the criminal justice system is often directed at apprehending criminals, very little attention is given to the victims of violent crime, who are either killed or subsequently die as a result of crimes committed against them, or suffer non-fatal injuries or losses for which they are not recompensed. Their dependants suffer in both cases.

The suffering includes emotional and psychological trauma, and victims are frequently obliged to undergo lengthy periods of medical and psychological care following a violent crime perpetrated against them. …

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