Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
19 March 2010

Minister Sisulu and the US judicial system

Maybe one’s view of the US criminal justice system is wrong. Having lived in the US for a while, I have always had the idea that US authorities take crime rather seriously and are rather ruthless and persistent in trying to prosecute criminal suspects. While they are not nearly as efficient in running the country as star-struck pro-Americans might think, the judiciary and the criminal justice system always struck me as being pretty efficient (and sometimes nasty). (Maybe this is necessary, what with all the right wing nut cases running around with guns and blowing up tax offices.)

When I drove from Kansas City to Memphis I was terrified of being caught speeding or breaking the law in any other way because I was warned that I would be ticketed or prosecuted.

But according to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, the information provided by the relevant authorities in the US regarding fugitives from justice cannot be trusted – at least not in the state of Connecticut. At a briefing yesterday she was asked about her special advisor Paul Ngobeni who is alleged to be a fugitive from US justice. She replied that:

Special advisor Dr. Paul Ngobeni is not a fugitive from law. I have received a letter from the leader of official opposition Mr Trollip who has enquired about what we are doing. I have asked him to furnish me with further information about his allegation Mr Paul Ngobeni is free to travel as and when he pleases. Should you furnish me – yourselves or Mr Trollip – with the necessary information I will act on it. The information we have at our disposal is information we have tested and we also base a lot of our assessment on the outcome of the investigation at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the statement made by the vice counsellor of UCT. Should you have any information we are available but he is free to work in my office.

Having had some differences of opinion with Mr Ngobeni, just for a larkand because I had nothing better to do I went to the website of the judicial branch of the state of Connecticut and searched for information on the status of Mr Ngobeni’s various legal run-ins with that State. This is what I found:

NgobeniReArrestOrderedResizedNote, the website claims that Mr Ngobeni’s re-arrest has been ordered. If this is true, it would make him a fugitive from justice. It would also make the Minister’s statement untrue. But then again, we know the US system is notoriously corrupt and inefficient so maybe the website information is just plane wrong. At first glance the information does seem rather convincing. I wonder whether this information will suffice for the Minister to Act. I suspect it probably would not. Those Americans have invaded Iraq so who knows what other nonsense they will conjure up to smear the good name of the Minister’s personal advisor.

PS: For details of the various cases allegedly pending against Mr Ngobeni click here and type in his name in the search section.

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