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Even the most evil of criminals must be given justice

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-03-12 00:12:40.0

The Times Editorial: An expression of gratitude by a Facebook group to Durban's disbanded Organised Crime Unit has raised serious concerns about justice in this country.

The Facebook group, established by Penny Katz two weeks ago, has already raised thousands of rands as a contribution to the costs of the court battle faced by the officers.

Though in normal circumstances such community support would be welcomed, in this instance it is resented by the families of those allegedly killed by the police unit.

When the Sunday Times first exposed the allegations against the unit there was a public outcry that forced Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to demand action.

The unit was disbanded and its officers served with letters informing them of the service's intention to suspend them.

Katz said she set up the Facebook page because the unit's officers helped victims of crime and the money donated would be used to help them defend themselves in court.

"A family member was a victim of crime. It was only after the Cato Manor unit took over the matter that the perpetrator was brought to book. I felt that I had to do something to show them my support," she said.

But families whose next of kin were allegedly killed by the Cato Manor unit also want justice.

Their pain should not be rejected because their next of kin were accused of being criminals.

For justice to be seen to be working, the police should try to bring suspects to court alive.

Katz and those who support her cause on Facebook should, while supporting the police officers, also think of the word "justice".

It applies to both victims and suspects.

The police should be congratulated for their successes in fighting crime - but we must never allow their actions to blind us to the imperative that we achieve justice for all, including those suspected of even the most heinous of crimes.

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