/ August 22, 2008

Frustration Brews over South Africa’s Release of "Lion Killer"

South Africans reeled yesterday over the release on parole of Mark Scott-Crossley, a white South African guilty of the brutal murder of an African employee, whom he and co-worker Simon Mathebula beat and fed to a pack of lions. The 2004 killing shocked the country, where violent crime is endemic and the wounds inflicted by racism are still raw. In 2005 Scott-Crossley was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, but his sentence was overturned on appeal in 2007; finding that the prosecution could not prove the victim was still alive when he was fed to the lions, a judge ruled that Scott-Crossley was only an accessory to murder. Mark Scott-Crossley had served 2/3 of his 5 year sentence when he was released this week. Mathebula will serve 15 years.

Scott-Crossley had fired the victim, construction worker Nelson Chisale, from his company in 2003. When Chisale arrived to retrieve his belongings, Scott-Crossley and Mathebula attacked him, and after beating him, drove him to a local white lion reserve, where they threw him to the animals. Scott-Crossley claims they had not intended to kill Chisale with the beating, but that he was already dead when they handed him over to the lions.

Chisale’s family, South African unions, and the general public have strongly denounced Scott-Crossley’s release, arguing that the deeply ingrained privileges granted to whites during apartheid continue to persist. On behalf of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, spokeswoman Jan Tsiane stated that in South Africa, “it is clear… that those who are rich and white will continue to be treated differently to those who are poor.” Prisoners rights organizations were similarly angered, questioning how such a ruthless killer could be given preferential treatment over the non-violent, elderly, and infirm inmates in the country’s prisons. South Africa’s parliament has also promised an inquiry into the early release.

Source: BBC News

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