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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Is mob justice acceptable?
Kenya has been gripped lately by mob hysteria and lynching over cases of suspected child abductions.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
But mob justice is not limited to Kenya alone and is said to have taken place in other African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria.
Why are people taking the law into their own hands and killing suspects or even innocent people? How can this violent mob justice be stopped? Tell us what you think.
A selection of your emails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday
Pule Mofaledi, South Africa
Mob justice in Kenya is mostly meted out by hooligans who pretend to champion justice yet their main aim is to cause disturbance so they can loot property in the ensuing disturbances.
The law enforcers should arrest such thieves. A mob is made up of individuals. Countries like Kenya should invest in close circuit surveillance to help net such villains who cause more trouble than the initial law breakers!
Charles L. Massaquoi, Malmo, Sweden
The correct term for it is mob violence and not mob justice. Any victim in such a case is always found guilty and receives nothing less than an instant death sentence. Only improvement in our Kenyan judicial system can save us from this social shame.
Anne Nangulu, Kenya
The issue is mob injustice, not mob justice. It should not be acceptable in any way. Suspects as per the law are presumed innocent until proved guilty. However, the judicial system in Kenya is in an appalling state. The independence of the judiciary has never been respected. The doctrine of separation of powers has never worked in that country and it is worse at this particular moment. I guess this is the reason Kenyans have taken the law into their own hands and execute suspects through lynching. But what does one expect of a judicial system which still believes in capital sentence?
When people take the law into their own hands, it is another expression of a lack of confidence in the ability of civil authorities to control crime because of a lack of training, indifference, or corruption.
I think "mob justice" is symptomatic of failure of the political system to deliver on people's needs. People want security, justice and an opportunity to make a living. Unfortunately, when these needs are not met, they then resort to vigilante groups, kangaroo-courts and theft.
Having witnessed firsthand "mob justice" in Kenya, I absolutely condemn this barbaric act which is due to the incapability of the Kenya Police and high level of corruption which sees many criminals walk free after small handouts forcing the public to take the law in their own hands !
"Shoot first and ask questions later" does not equal justice.
David W, A Sudanese in USA
No, mob justice is not acceptable. Often the people acting out these violent acts have more of a vendetta against an individual or group of people than any interest in "justice." Need we be reminded of how here in the USA, all a white woman would have to do, at one time, was mention that she was looked at "the wrong way" by a black man, and then scores of black people would be lynched and brutalised. The phrase "mob justice" is an oxymoron.
Mob justice can not be used in any civilised to society. But in places where justice is sold to the highest bidder in Africa, people have no choice but resort to mob justice.
As sad as that is, it is unfortunately the only way many Africans get the justice they deserve.
Mob or vigilante actions can be regarded as an indirect expression of the people's lack of confidence in those who are responsible for maintaining law and order in these societies. People may take the law into their own hands if those responsible fail to perform. Afterall, the people made the law. The solution lies in tracing the sources of the two-dimensional problem. First, why are people involved in child abduction? This may be related to poverty. Secondly, stem the large-scale corruption in the police and other security forces. This will renew people's confidence in them.
In every major town, and lately even in rural areas, Kenyans have applied this form of justice on mainly witches and petty thieves. As far as it concerns the guilty culprits getting the wages of their crimes, I fully support it. It is unfortunate that innocent people often get hurt or even killed. I don't believe that Kenyans are that bloodthirsty as to enjoy killing their compatriots but our justice system just doesn't seem to work leaving them with no option but to take the law in their own hands.
Clement Chiwaya, Malawian studying in USA
The collapse of the institution of justice has seen Kenyans take the law into their own hands. But then the term "mob justice" is wrong because it gives the impression that there is "justice" in what a mob does.
The reason mostly is that if a criminal is captured and handed over to the police, they buy their way out of detention and become worse as is the case in Nigeria, Policemen have been known in the past to aid and abet crime. Even when information is given to the police, they will leak it out to criminals who will then attack the informant.
It is very simple. In Africa, we cannot depend on the police or legal authorities to provide justice, so we have no choice but to take it into out own hands. I think mob justice has its faults, but it will make you think twice before you commit a crime in public.
The general public in Kenya has decided to take the law into their own hands because the system has let them down in all ways! It is common knowledge that the police in Nairobi are seriously short of resources and tools essential to do their work such as enough vehicles in working order and telecommunications equipment. Furthermore, corruption has caused the people to lose faith in the judicial system which has led to widespread cases of instant justice proclaimed on individuals suspected of committing crimes.
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