There are copious argument have been advanced for and against the continuing rights of prisoners to vote in South Africa, considering the widespread heinous crimes committed against the state and other law-abiding citizens. This position is in the light of brazen crime perpetuated in parts of the country.
Currently, South Africa prisoners have been able to vote since 1999 when the South African constitutional court declared:
“The universality of the franchise is important not only for nationhood and democracy. The vote of each and every citizen is a badge of dignity and personhood.”
Looking at other civilised countries of the world, some nations deny prisoners the right to vote as a measure to curb crime.
In 2015, One of the lawyers representing the concerned prisoners, who were ostensibly denied access to exercise their franchise, Sean Humber, stated, “Unfortunately, we seem to be in the sad position where the government is taking an almost perverse pleasure in ignoring successive court judgements and is content to continue violating the human rights of thousands of its citizens,” he said.
“It should be worrying to all of us that the government appears to have so little regard for its international human rights obligations or indeed the rule of law.”
The UK is out of step with other European countries as well as many developed countries around the world. While prisoners are part of society, the UK does not give them the same rights as imprisoned persons in South Africa have.
The case was initially brought forward by convicted murderer John Hirst, who has since been released after serving 25 years in prison. He commented after the last court ruling:
“You don’t lose your status in civil society just because you’re in prison – you are still a member of the public, you are still a member of society. The vote has nothing to do with the actual punishment.”