By Jemima Beukes
KEETMANSHOOP – //Karas Governor Bernadus Swartbooi wants a reassessment of the penal code and punishment meted out to convicted criminals as well as the introduction of a system that puts emphasis on rehabilitating offenders.
Swartbooi made the call during the official opening of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence that runs until December 10.
He questioned punishment meted out to juveniles and other criminals saying there is need to study the situation to see whether such sentences will go a long way to remedy the conduct of the convicted or whether it in fact only motivates them to continue with their criminal activities.
“Why can we not get them to take part in a panel discussion on this topic? A rehabilitative approach must be able to help them go on spiritual journeys so that they can look inside themselves and see why they do what they do. A journey allowing these perpetrators to be the key drivers in fighting social ills,” he said while making reference to the biblical Paul who persecuted Christians but eventually became one of the most influential Christians.
He re-iterated the need for a juvenile rehabilitation centre saying it is a matter of urgency as juvenile delinquency is no longer an isolated crime statistic.
“We need to take pre-emptive measures in schools and I learnt from my cousins who are attending the J.A Nel School that the children are extremely rude, but I understand that it is not only the boys but the girls, who perhaps coming from a broken home set-up lack the essential respect for their opposite gender. Children must be trained and taught how to speak to each other and how to conduct themselves in the presence of the opposite sex,” he stated.
Swartbooi said it is a shame that communities shy away from fighting gender-based violence (GBV) or violence in general.
It is depressing that women in the community sell their bodies for alcohol, but most depressing is the fact some political leaders engage in GBV against young women, despite having been part of the law-making process that prohibits GBV.
“One would expect them to know better, but when you find leaders who violate the very laws they made then we cannot help but ask whether violence is a cultural orientation. Is it a societal belief that only men can bring about order? What does it say about the commitment of such leaders towards the GBV?” he asked.
He further suggested that perhaps this is the time for Namibians to deliberately put emphasis on marriage arguing that it has proven that children reared in a marriage are more stable and inclined to succeed than children raised in a single-parent set-up.
Meanwhile, violence against women continues unabated despite governments efforts to combat the evil, said Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator for the //Karas Region, Rudolf Isaaks.
He also mentioned that even though the chances to completely eradicate violence against women seem unlikely Namibians should not lose hope.
According to Isaaks alcohol abuse still stands prominent as the biggest instigator of violence followed by broken family systems amongst others.