From load shedding to prisoner shedding: Zuma benefits from government incompetence

If prison overcrowding is government’s fault, then Jacob Zuma has benefitted from his own poor performance.

There’s this genius universal solution applied by the South African state to address all of its problems. The best part is that the solution only requires three steps: discover you don’t have enough supply, ration the supply, give it a fancy name.

From the people who gave you load shedding, put your hands together for… remission! Employment lawyers around the country are nodding their heads as finally something – “last in, first out” – makes sense.

Who cares about building prison capacity or even reducing crime… no, no, no. Save some money (and a bit of face) and let’s just bypass prison. It’s not for everybody though. Turns out you need to be a non-violent offender. Sorry Oscar. One also needs to be low-risk, whatever that means. Turns out our former president just happens to fit them all for this lovely get out of jail free benefit.

It’s pretty obvious that the application of the programme this week was designed to keep Jacob Zuma tucked away nicely in his home and keep the government from having to deal with another riot. From a legal perspective, it’s worrying but alarmingly, not the most worrying aspect of this fiasco.

Thank you very much for only releasing the non-violent offenders but you know what would be awesome? Not having to release any offenders at all just because we have no space for them. What is the point of a prison system if we have no space to effectively run the system? Coupled with the Thabo Bester story, this doesn’t inspire confidence in the state that they can keep up safe.

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In what world does it make sense to have an entire legal system developed over many years, to investigate, charge, convict and imprison criminals only for the president to say, “meh, let ’em go ‘cause we ain’t got no space for them”?

Separation of power is great and all so how can we reconcile undoing the work of the judiciary with the simple flick of a pen by the executive?

Not even Thuli Madonsela’s ubuntu rationale makes sense. The legal point may have technically been proven. I guess he did satisfy the court order of going back to prison albeit for a moment. It’s just that the math doesn’t add up.

Take a country. Now add incompetent leadership. Part of the result would be insufficient prison planning, increased criminal activity and prison overcrowding. Add to that the need to alleviate prison overcrowding. Then comes the result in the form of this remissions nonsense. How is it that the primary beneficiary is the person who oversaw the leadership of the country for 9 years? How is it that he benefits from his own poor performance?

Had Zuma built more prisons during his term or done more to deal with crime, we wouldn’t have this problem. But now we have this problem, what is the result? He gets to stay out of jail.

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I don’t know if he’s sponsored by Netflix but if they wanted an enticing biopic in 20 years, they have an amazing subject. The story has got better since the days when he was just a showering rape accused slated to be president.

Many people loathe the man and want to see him in prison just because of what an awful leader he was while in office. I get that, though that shouldn’t be the reason to push against this awkward policy.

The reason to bend over backwards to make sure he gets substantial time in jail is because we didn’t spend millions on a commission of inquiry, and even more to see this matter through the highest court in the land, just to give a couple of choms the power to undo it and see Zuma head home because the country sucks at dealing with criminals.

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