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.
GOVERNMENT OF THE RSA V GROOTBOOM: A TEN YEAR RETROSPECTIVE
The VerLoren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies at UNISA has been presenting a series of retrospectives on key developments in South African constitutional law since 2005. The first retrospective took the form of a two day seminar on S v Makwanyane and its legacy. Some of the seminar papers were subsequently published in the accredited journal of the Centre, SA Publiekreg/Public Law (see (2005) 20 SAPR/PL). The 2006 retrospective interrogated the jurisprudence of Azapo v President of RSA. The retrospective resulted in the publication of a collection of essays (Le Roux & Van Marle (eds) Law, memory and the legacy of apartheid (2007) Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) Pretoria). More recently, the 2009 retrospective was dedicated to the constitutional jurisprudence of Albie Sachs (1995-2009). Selected papers from the retrospective will appear shortly in Southern African Public Law (formerly SA Publiekreg/Public law).
We are in the process of conceptualising and planning another retrospective in the series for 2010. The planned retrospective will focus on the judgment of the Constitutional Court in Government of the Republic of South Africa v Grootboom (CCT11/00)  ZACC 19; 2001 (1) SA 46; 2000 (11) BCLR 1169; (4 October 2000). Ten years after it was delivered, the judgment remains the classical statement of the South African Constitutional Court’s approach to the judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights. During the preceding decade, the judgment has attracted wide-spread attention from academics. Some academics have stressed the importance of greater judicial activism in the formulation of the state’s core obligations in socio-economic rights cases (beyond the procedural standard of good governance), while others have interrogated the importance of greater judicial activism in the enforcement of these obligations (given that Irene Grootboom died during 2008 still homeless and penniless). These academic debates are informed by deep-seated assumptions about the separation of powers and the transformative role of courts in society. The Court itself had the opportunity to revisit its Grootboom judgment on a number of occasions and to respond to these concerns.
The result is a rich body of jurisprudence that deserves a critical retrospective, as we enter the second decade after Grootboom in the context of growing discontent about service delivery, socio-economic transformation and the future of social democracy in post-apartheid SouthAfrica.
Persons who are interested to participate in such a retrospective are invited to submit 500 word abstracts to Wessel le Roux at email@example.com or Amanda Pieterse-Spies at firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 18 June 2010. We will do our best to accommodate most of these papers during a two-day seminar on 7 and 8 October 2010 in Pretoria. Selected papers will thereafter be peer reviewed and published in a special volume of the accredited journal Southern African Public Law.BACK TO TOP