Unstitching the culture of criminal impunity


Opinionista  Muhammad Khalid Sayed  24 July 2018



                                                Photo: Jeff Benzien during the TRC hearings. Benny Gool

In South Africa, our failure to hold one another to account for the most heinous crimes in our past – not to exact revenge, but to facilitate justice and healing – can be read today in our crime statistics, in gender violence, and in grand corruption in our private and public sectors. Twenty-one years ago last week, notorious Cape Town security policeman Jeff Benzien appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to apply for amnesty in respect of a host of human rights violations.

Characterising himself as a torture expert with particular expertise in the rapid extraction of information from political detainees immediately after their arrest, chilling photographs of Benzien showing commissioners how he dealt with freshly captured political detainees by suffocating them with wet bags were published across the world. He also used electricity.