IT would appear from reports by activists in the broader psych-rights movement that David Stolper has succeeded in taking his own life. After being condemned to live in institutional care and without access to human rights, Stolper appears to have taken his life yesterday, according to Moosa Salie of WNUSP and Erica Chesler of CCHR, Stolper end his short life with an act of suicide.

Mad Pride salutes Stolper in his bravery and wishes him everything of the best. Stolper would have wanted the community to see his death in the light of his continued administration by well-meaning individuals who see human life as nothing more than biochemical reactions. That it should come down to an act of defiance against society is a sad indightment of the state-sanctioned psychiatric system which controlled him to the very end.

“The law has been an instrument of our oppression”, said Stolper in a recent interview conducted by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Disability. “The whole world looks at our constitution in South Africa and see it as the most progressive one for the rights of all people. And the thing is that the constitution is not being adhered to when it comes to disabled persons, and this is something that must change,” Stolper also expressed the view that the current Mental Health Act needed to be scrapped, since it denied the rights of the person and infringed various sections of the Constitution.

Needless to say, despite his involvement in various organisations, Stolper could not gain freedom for himself and others. This is the testimony to the flagrant disregard for human rights and the lip-service being paid by organisations such as the SAHRC. It is doubtful if South Africa’s legal system could exist without the fiction created by mens rea, and thus the law needs psychiatry in order to justify itself.

One can only stand aghast and express outrage at the injustice of our current system, one in which trial by jury of ones peers is a wholly foreign concept, and where even the South African flag is  absent from the court-room. In other words, the law is for the Jody Kollepans of this world, not for ordinary South Africans.

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