SVS Criminal Case Timeline Overview

Incident to Arrest
A 72 hour response plan is our goal.

During this time the Specialised Victim Support (SVS) platform and all processes are activated. These include SAPS, the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Violent Crimes and Technology Support (VCAT NPO), Together SA CAN NPO and the National SVS Community.

Arrest to Trial/Conviction
The process of the bail application, trial and conviction of the accused. Generally, if there is a guilty plea this takes an average of 90 days for all processes. If it goes to trial then this may take 12 to 36 months depending on the number of times the trial is adjourned.

Trial/Conviction to Parole
Life imprisonment terms in South Africa can be of varying length and may last for the remainder of the offender’s life.

It is a mandatory punishment for premeditated murder, gang rape, serial rape and rape where the rapist knew they were HIV positive or if the victim was under 18 and/or mentally disabled. In certain circumstances, robberies and hijackings (and aircraft hijacking) also carry a mandatory life sentence.

Section 51 of South Africa’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1997 prescribes the minimum sentences for other types of murders, rapes and robberies to 25, 15 and 10 years respectively, so parole is almost always granted to prisoners serving life sentences after the minimum sentence for the lesser crime has been served.

However, a prisoner must be given a parole hearing after having served 25 years.

In special cases, life imprisonment ‘without any possibility of parole or pardon’ for a long period of time (such as 1000 years) can be imposed, as seen in the case of serial killer Moses Sithole.

Parole to Reintegration
Victim families and interested/affected parties must be informed and allowed to participate.

I believe that this is the hardest part for families and affected parties. Rebuilding trust and true forgiveness is extremely difficult and of course there is every reason why some choose not to take part in it. In my humble opinion, it’s more about one’s own life journey and self-healing, and by extension your family and, in turn, the community, nation and world than about the offender. Hate, rage and anger are the most powerful human emotions and they can be totally destructive if uncontrolled and unchanneled. I hate priority crimes, but I forgive all those who I help to arrest within our line of work. Law must exercise a firm hand upon offenders, and humanity at large, through just and proper governmental action, must prevail and triumph over evil. Victims must be given every opportunity to heal, and those offenders who are truly remorseful a chance to make amends. Loved ones in death are to be cherished by our nation. I speak from a place of experience, hence the reason you are even reading this…

We must help to bring justice, healing and forgiveness to society. It’s what we teach our children and it’s what we should all be responsible for as a nation.