My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Could it be that the president’s supporters do not want the courts to review and possibly set aside the decision of former director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe not to proceed with the prosecution of Zuma on charges of corruption? That appears not to be the kind of power they think courts should possess. Of course, they are free to criticise judgments they consider to be wrong, but that is a different matter to curtailing constitutional democracy, which rests on a principle of constitutional review. If that is not the reason for the recent moves, it is high time the country was told specifically what has motivated this call for a review. Without a clear explanation, the inference drawn in this column sadly becomes irresistible. Is it too much then to ask that the present chief justice enter the arena and defend the Constitution as it currently stands? –Serjeant at the Bar in the Mail & GuardianBACK TO TOP