Quote of the week

The unhappy fact that it is journalists, investigating organs of state and officialdom and the political class and their involvement in corrupt practices to loot the State’s resources, who, by so doing, attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the State to smell out their adversaries, cannot be ignored. The examples of abuse of the system have been addressed elsewhere in this judgment. Moreover, the respondents’ perspectives assume that the designated judge is not lied to and is diligent… In my view, in the absence of a rebuttal, this example illustrates a grave vulnerability in RJCA that such an apparent abuse could occur. The common cause examples of blatant lies being told to the designated judge further exacerbates the vulnerability of the system.

Sutherland J
Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others
10 February 2012

BLA statement on disclosure by judges

The BlA has noted with concern the reported line of attitude adopted by the justices of the Republic of South Africa through their representatives regarding the proposed disclosure of their financial and business interests, regarding the proposed codes and regulations as proposed by the Justice and Constitutional development Ministry.

Whilst we are not fully appraised with the reasons thereto, we hold a firm and honest belief that it should stand to reason that as custodians of the interpretation and application of the constitution, which is unequivocal on issues of transparency and accountability by all arms of government including the judiciary, there was and there still remains a duty to lead the pack on transparency which is already meted out against executive and legislature. To this end, there does not appear to be any foundational basis for the justices not to disclose their financial interests including their assets. If anything, their focal point should be hinging on establishing mechanisms of ensuring that the disclosures are as less intrusive “IS possible, largely in so far as same may be relating to their families.

The disclosures which are meted out to the Executive and Legislature should similarly hold same for the judiciary. There are hosts of reasons for such line of disclosure to be adopted.

While we acknowledge the inalienable right to follow the due process, it will be extremely amazing if the justices were to carry out the threat of subjecting this issue to court processes. Such a course of action is not only undesirable but is also enemical to the judiciary’s commitment to transparency as envisaged by the constitution.

The BLA accordingly urge the justices not to entangle themselves in a quagmire of whether or not the proposed disclosures are necessary or not. In our view these measures are not only desirable but are also necessary both in fact and law and above all are instructure in terms of the constitution which binds the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

PER: P B MABUNDA
OBO: BLACK LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

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