Action Society launches new campaign – No violent criminals in public office
Action Society has just released a new campaign in an attempt to stop violent criminals being considered for public office in a democratic society that prides itself on fundamental values such as “human dignity” and “freedom from violence”.
Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society says that including violent criminals into the political process makes a mockery of the high standards needed for an office bearer and inflicts further insult to their victim’s injury.
Current legislation states that:
- A person convicted of a criminal offence may be appointed in a public service position on condition that his or her past or current criminal convictions are disclosed, and it is found that the criminal conviction plays no relevant part in determining whether the person is fit to fulfil the job requirements.
- Any person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine is not eligible to stand for public office in the National Assembly, any provincial legislature or a municipal council for the period between their conviction and five years after having served their sentence. After having served their sentence, however, a person once again becomes eligible to hold any one of these public offices.
- Similarly, as members of the national, provincial and municipal executives are chosen from the body of elected representatives (the National Assembly, provincial legislatures and municipal councils respectively) no person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine is eligible to be appointed as a member of one of these executives.
Action Society recommends that an amendment of sections 47(1)(e) and 106(1)(e) of the Constitution must be made. This amendment will address the membership eligibility of members of the National Assembly, provincial legislatures and municipal councils, ensuring that no one with a criminal record, irrespective of the timeframe or sentence, must be allowed to serve in public office. A proposed amendment to these sections would require a two thirds majority in the National Assembly as well as the supporting vote of at least six provinces as the amendment would directly affect provinces.
“We need the public to help us put pressure on all political parties to stop violent criminals from serving in public office. This constitutional amendment is in the best interest of all South Africans. We call on any and all political parties who are serious about combating GBVF in this country to jointly introduce this constitutional amendment in parliament and ensure that it is expeditiously enacted and implemented,” Cameron urged.
Responsibility starts at the top. If GBVF is not eradicated in high office first it will become harder and harder to combat it on ground level.
“Action Society will do everything in our power to ensure that rapists, murderers, abusers and those who inflict grievous bodily harm on others, forfeit their right to hold public office, as they have trampled on the fundamental rights of their fellow South Africans. Join us in holding our politicians accountable by signing our petition,” Cameron concluded.