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.
Why then the gnashing of teeth when journalists commented on the Minister’s Health earlier in the week? Sometimes members of the government seem uncomfortable with operating in a country with a free press. Their insticts seem to deny anything they might perceive to be embarrassing and which they think there are not hard “objective” proof for.
What they do not understand is that in a democracy the press and us ordinary voters – if we are responsible citizens – take what government spokespersons say with a pinch of salt. This does not make us Afro-pessimists, just sane, sceptical people who do not trust power not to corrupt.