JUSTICE VS UBUNTU
By: Khetho Dlamini
Justice by definition is an establishment of fairness on the side of the victim and bestowal of the sting to the offender. Ubuntu on the other hand is the spirit of balancing all that is
humanly good and acceptable to the vast majority of the community.
When a verdict has to be given, Ubuntu and justice become competing interests. This is because both these aspects are for the benefit of all human regardless of the act that has been
committed by the offender of the law.
A loss of a life of an individual is something that can never be compensated. The crime of murder is by far and large a crime that, after all reasonable considerations, must be given
maximum sentence, according to the book Ubuntu and The Law.
Maximum custodial sentence is what comes to mind if a term murder is mentioned. Some people argue however that if a first time murder offender receives a custodial sentence, the
purpose of justice is defeated because the family of the deceased does not benefit from it.
Advocate Rishanna Bramdawe, who is doing his private practice and specialises in criminal advocacy, medical negligence and contract law, said that justice must be done with
compassion and humanity not by the rule of thumb.
“Retribution and deterrence should not dismiss the imperativeness of restorative justice.
The court is the ultimate custodian on behalf of the interest of society and Ubuntu should form part of our legal system,” said Bramdawe.
“If a person is put away because of the crime of murder, no one benefits.
The affected family is not in any way compensated for the loss of their family member.
Something like community service is what benefits not just the family of the deceased but the community at large.
The grassroots principle of retaining the sting to the offender is kept constant,” expressed Andile Mcineka, a Law student in the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Restorative justice is other alternative that the court always has at its disposal when handing a sentence. Since murder cannot be compensated for, it is classified as a serious criminal
Minenhle Buthelezi, a ceramics student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), said that restorative justice was not for recidivisms and murder convicted people.
“Murder is a much more serious crime and giving a perpetrator a sentence of community work is just not equal to the damage that he or she had done. I believe that in the process of administration of the law, there should be a direct balance between the act committed and the punishment given,” said Buthelezi.
The Constitution having been laid upon the foundations of Ubuntu, justice still needs to be served and seen to be served.