It is not surprising that both Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema recently launched scathing attacks on the South African judiciary, claiming – without providing any proof or even credible circumstantial evidence – that some judges may be corrupt and may have been bribed. Exploiting valid concerns about the attempt by the CR17 campaign to keep their bank statements secret, Zuma and Malema are promoting a conspiracy theory that may be believed despite the fact that is not backed up by any evidence. It is therefore important – for both pragmatic political, and principled legal, reasons – that the court unseal these documents forthwith.

Once in a while I receive a barrage of emails from somebody who claims that a judge ruled against them in a matter because the judge was bribed, criminally negligent, or conflicted in some other way. These emails often contain thousands of pages of attachments purporting to prove the fantastical claims made by the complainant. So far, they never have. But, to be honest, I do not always read through all the attachments because the emails tend to be incoherent, and the sender not sufficiently in touch with reality, to warrant any investment of time. (more…)

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Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
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