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
15 February 2007

"Their spledid eland has waded too far…"

Justice Willis of the Witwatersrand Division of the High Court seemed to have had considerable fun in writing his judgment in INGLEDEW v THEODOSIOU 2006 (5) SA 462 (W). Here are some extracts illustrating his verbal gymnastics. (Thanks to Craig for pointing this out to me):

“[T]he first defendant is what the newspapers would nowadays refer to as a ‘property tycoon’ or a ‘property mogul’ (without in any way intending any disrespect to the Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin which ruled much of India in the 16th to 19th centuries).”

. . . .

“[T]he first defendant made the classic error of ‘imperial overreach’. Like a splendid eland that has waded too far into a water-hole to get the advantage of the best water, he became mired in a bog in which his situation was desperate. The predators were circling.”

. . . . .

“But facts, the significance of which may each be as light as a feather, can accumulate to create a bag so heavy that it can deliver a resounding and even deathly blow. That, in my view, has happened in this case.”

. . . . . .

“In Ex parte Coney , 1952 (3) SA 745 (SR) Quénet J (as he then was) quoted with approval Jelf J in Booth v Walkden Spinning and Manufacturing Co Ltd , [1909] 2 KB 268. in which Jelf J had said:

‘First come first served is one of the necessary axioms of this life of ours.’

With due respect to both Jelf and Quénet JJ, I do not consider this ‘axiom’ to be an axiom at all. It is not a self-evident truth. See, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary . It is, more likely, part of the enduring (and perhaps even endearing) morality of English public schoolboys. But, as anyone who has been a little boy at boarding school will know, it is a less than perfect summary of justice.”

Wonder whether Justice Willis ever attended a boarding school? Hilton? Michealhouse?

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