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Sunday, 23 November 2008

One woman's story - family lost to crime

from vonk-de-ridder @ SAS

Over the past 19 years Sue Seeber from Steynsburg, Eastern Cape, has lost almost two dozen friends and family members to crime. Here she speaks about the rights of the victim, police incompetence and her personal crusade to make a difference and find solutions to turn the tide of crime in SA.

How have you been affected by crime in South Africa?

It started in 1987 when my nephew Gysie Labuschagne was murdered in Cape Town. Years later my husband’s cousin Terry Tarr was robbed and shot on a farm near Grahamstown. Then Regina Venter, my aunt’s mother-in-law, was raped and strangled with a telephone cord in Dordrecht, followed by the slaying of Regina’s daughter near Burgersdorp. My husband’s cousin Victor Seeber was murdered in Kwazulu Natal. His burnt body was found in his bakkie (pick-up) along the road. I also lost two distant family members from the Rossouw family in Dordrecht in a shooting between Queenstown and Dordrecht. The new millennium saw the shooting of my son Edwin Seeber in Johannesburg and in 2003 my brother Jan Labuschagne was stabbed in the stomach in Indwe – he later died from medical complications due to this incident. In 2005 my distant cousin Roan Gouws was shot in Port Elizabeth and recently my brother Johan “Sokkies” Labuschagne was shot on his farm near Indwe. Another 10 friends and acquaintances have fallen victim to crime in this country. It’s terrible.

Do you believe that your brother’s murder could have been averted?
My brother’s death was a result of police incompetence. His life was twice threatened by the same individual (now standing trial for the murder). He reported it twice and made two statements at the Indwe police station and one and Aliwal North. The police knew the individual was harassing him before the murder. My brother often said his life was in danger. The police maintain it was robbery, but my brother’s murder was premeditated.

You have become very vocal in the press. Why?
The press is now our only weapon. Maybe somebody will take notice. As an individual, I want to do everything in my power to change the current situation in this country. I want to be heard wherever I can. We have plans to involve the Portuguese and German press. I want the situation in SA to be known by the world. Murders take place and we just move on as if it is normal. I’m now in contact with the Freedom Front, the Democratic Alliance and certain individuals overseas to publicise crime in SA. I feel the only way forward is to get international support because we don’t seem to be getting help from the state here.

What do you think are the causes of the wave of crime in this country?
There are a number of reasons in my opinion. Firstly, there is no rule of law and no justice. Criminals commit crimes and are out on bail within days or weeks. I thought it was a good thing when the law was reformulated with an emphasis on human rights. Now I know it was the beginning of a bad thing. Criminals are clever; they know they can literally get away with murder on the back of human rights. Secondly, I think the disbanding of the commandos has left a security vacuum in the rural areas. Crime pays nowadays, literally. Apparently, for a fee, somebody will kill anybody on your behalf. These crimes are more organised than we think.

What should be done to turn the tide of crime in South Africa?
Firstly, if the police can’t protect us then we should allow freelance security companies to protect us. This is what I am after. If they (South African Police Services) can’t do the job then somebody else must. Secondly, individuals should be given more scope to protect themselves with their own firearms. We find ourselves, thanks to firearm legislation, in a situation where when we are threatened, we can’t use our weapons and if we do, we become the criminal in the scenario. To have a licensed firearm nowadays is useless while criminals brazenly walk around with stolen weapons. The law is against us law-abiding citizens and in favour of criminals.

Do you believe the death sentence should be reinstated?
I’m in favour of the death penalty. I feel if someone takes a life, his or hers should be taken in return. Just as the Bible says, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Some people believe that farm murders are not only linked to crime but are an attempt to remove white farmers from the land. What do you believe?
As far as farm murders are concerned history repeats itself. In certain areas is true. They want to remove farmers from the land or at least use it as an excuse to kill them. Revenge against white farmers in some areas is real. In a recent court case a farm murderer admitted that he killed the farmer because he was on “his” land.

Do you feel your grandchildren have a future in this country?
No. My grandchildren are all overseas. I support their decision. I don’t want them to end up where so many of my friends and family have. If I was young enough, I would leave too. I have had enough.