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A CHANGE OF HEART

“If I had known they would be walking scot free, after the heinous crime that they had committed, I would have shot the three of them in the head instead of arresting them.” This statement coming out of the mouth of an officer silenced the entire room. We could hardly believe our ears. Those of us not in the Police Service could be forgiven for not having faith in the system, but her? She was the system!

She narrated how a notorious gang of three young men had terrorized the area for months. Armed robbery, assault and rape were their speciality. They were extremely brutal and cruel, and they left their victims deeply traumatized.

One day, the officer managed to arrest them after the getaway car they were using broke down. It was a major win for the officer, and she hoped to finally put them behind bars where they undoubtedly belonged. She invited the victims over for identification and this is where things took a sad turn. Their victims were so traumatized by the young men that they could not bear to look at them, all of them ran away screaming in horror! This is how the young men gained their freedom. The officer was heartbroken.

During the Wellbeing and Resilience sessions, we learned about the cycles of violence and how violence only begets more violence. The officer was able to see how her actions had she shot the young men instead of letting justice take its course could have only resulted in many more acts of violence – their fellow criminals or families might have decided to revenge their killings, members of the society would have lost their faith in the process and begun taking matters into their hands and she would have had to live with the guilt of the extra judicial killings.

It was a relief to the group when at the end of the sessions, the officer confessed that she had a change of heart and she had regained her trust in the system. Such is the transformation that knowledge brings. She resumed work with a renewed commitment to uphold justice and the rule of law.

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