My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula’s proposal to amend the Constitution so as to allow Police to detain arrested suspects for longer than 48 hours before charging them in a Court of law, sounds like a spectacularly unwise idea. He is arguing that Police find it difficult to always formulate a charge before the end of the 48 hour period and suspects are then set free and even sue the Minister for wrongful arrest. There are at least three ways to respond to the Minister of Safety and Security.
On the Cape Talk with John Maythem this afternoon, Peter Gastrow suggested we should re-look our Criminal Procedure model and investigate whether it would not be better to move towards a more inquisitorial system, like on the Continent. That way Magistrates, say, could play a more active role in the run up to a trial. Interesting suggestion worth exploring I think.BACK TO TOP