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)
24 November 2011

Cabinet Statement on “transformation of judicial system”

2.8  Assessment on the transformation of the judicial system and the role of the judiciary in a developmental state to be carried out with a reputable research institution

In the main, this assessment is three fold: firstly, to ensure the judiciary conforms to the transformation mandate as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic in terms of non-racialism, gender, disability and other transformational variables. Secondly, access to justice on all levels of the courts from lower courts through to Constitutional Courts. Thirdly, to affirm the independence of the judiciary as well as that of the executive and parliament with a view to promoting interdependence and interface that is necessary to realize transformation goals envisaged by the Constitution.

Cabinet agreed to the following approach to the transformation of the judicial system:

  • That the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court be undertaken by a research institution to establish how the decisions of the court have impacted on the lives of ordinary citizens and how these decisions have influenced socio-economic transformation and the reform of the law.
  • The Judicial Education Institute be used as a vehicle for transformation through aspirant and serving judicial officers may acquire the requisite legal skills to contribute to the evolving local and global constitutional jurisprudence;
  • Measures be taken to enhance the efficiency and the integrity of the Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates Commission in the execution of their Constitutional mandate of facilitating the racial, gender and other Constitutional prescripts in the judiciary.
  • An appropriate framework be established for the regular monitoring of the implementation of the court decisions by all State Departments.
  • The mandates and compositions of the South African Law Reform Commission and the Rules Board of Law to be reviewed with a view to enhance the research capacity of the State to be able to lead transformation in the fields that have greater impact on the lives of the people, such as socio-economic transformation, land reform, mining, aviation and many more.
  • Appropriate mechanisms be developed to facilitate for regular interface between the three spheres of the State to enhance synergy and constructive engagement among them in pursuit of common transformative goals that are geared to benefit the society at large.
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