What is Justice?

Contributed by Yong Gyum Kim

Before this statement can be sufficiently evaluated, one needs to consider the notion of justice in the mind of the Law. Justice can be defined as; ‘the proper administration of the law; the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law.’ It can also be characterised as being the moral rightness and fairness, whereby every individual receives his/her due from the system.

However, contrary to popular thought, there have been a multitude of cases in recent years which have disordered and upset this system of Justice.

An exemplar of this case would be the Oscar Pistorius murder trial of his late girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp which eventually ceased with the sentence of 5 years in prison. This affair was clouded by a barrage of nefarious claims from both the prosecution and defending sides on the nature of Pistorius’ mind-set, and the reasoning behind the killing itself. Many argued that the case was partisan prior to it even starting as a result of Pistorius’ prestige and the fame that he had accumulated on a national and global scale. In what was South Africa’s trial of the Century, which had accumulated millions of spectators from all over the globe, the nation’s golden-boy who had united a country embroiled in racial feuds with his heroic sprinting, and an individual who had been idolised by countless youths from all over the world; fell from grace and was consequently belittled of his wealth and fortune which he had amassed with his cachet. However, it is still disputed whether he had essentially, ‘bought his way,’ to a light-sentence, as crimes akin to his would have normally brought about a 10-15 year sentence. Here, a parallel can be drawn to the celebrated American soccer star OJ Simpson, who was found not guilty of murdering his wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. He too, was perceived as having purchased his way through to freedom.

However, contrary to these two superstars was the case of the South African musician Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye, who was convicted of murder and was given 20 years for a case that was parallel to that of Pistorius. He had neither fame nor fortune and was thus, left to bear the brunt of justice.

These episodes make one ponder whether authentic justice is truly attainable; or whether it is coloured by race, gender, wealth or prestige.