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)
1 December 2009

Apology to President Zuma

Last week on this Blog I critised President Jacob Zuma for purporting to appoint Adv Menzi Simelane as the National Director of Public Prosecutions and pointed out – correctly in my view – that the appointment shows an utter disregard for the Constitution and the law. In my criticism – which I believe to be valid and based on the proven facts and a correct interpretation of the law and the Constitution – I unfortunately reverted to the kind of intemperate language, which sadly has become all too common in our political discourse, by referring to our President as a “gangster”.
 
I regret using such intemperate language, which detracts from the substantive debate regarding the unfitness of Adv Menzi Simelane to hold office as the National Director of Public Prosecutions. I wish to apologise unreservedly to our President for the use of this intemperate language which, as the Presidency points out, does not contribute to the healthy and respectful debate so needed in our democracy.
 
However, I do call on our President to reconsider the appointment of Adv Menzi Simelane as the National Director of Public Prosecutions as this appointment is not in the interest of the country and the smooth running of the criminal justice system. Given the serious questions about Adv Simelane’s fitness to hold office, reasonable people – including myself – will continue to speculate about the true reasons for the appointment which indeed, shows a disregard for the law and the Constitution as well as for the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority.
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