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 September 2009

Medical Miracles (IV)

It has now been 205 days since Schabir Shaik was released on medical parole because he was allegedly “in the final phase of a terminal disease or condition” and was sent home in order “to die a consolatory and dignified death”. (These are nor my words, but the words used in section 79 of the Correctional Services Act.)

Of course, we know that an individual can only be released in terms of section 79 after a medical practitioner treating the criminal had indeed diagnosed that criminal as being in the final stages of a terminal illness. We have also known for a long time that Shaik’s doctors never diagnosed him as being in the final stages of a terminal illness and that he was therefore released unlawfully.

After 205 days as a free man, Shaik remains very much alive. This is no surprise as he never was at deaths door when he was released. Despite the clear evidence that the release was unlawful, the Minister has steadfastly refused to refer the case the the Parole Appeals Board as he was obliged to do, claiming there was no evidence of wrongdoing. (Like the apartheid government who always claimed there was no evidence that the Police tortured and killed the opponents of apartheid, our Minister refuses to see what is before his very own eyes.)

The miracle here is of course not really a medical one at all. The miracle is that Shaik is getting away with this because he once upon a time paid bribes worth millions of Rands to our President, something our society does not seem to care about too much. Who cares that some animals are more equal than others? Who cares that poor, black criminals languish in jail and die there while well connected people like Shaik escape their punishment. Who cares about the principle of equality before the law. After all, there was no equality before the law during the apartheid era, so why should there now be such a thing?

Let us forgive and forget, I say! After all, this is the kind of thing the apartheid government did, so why should we be any better than they were. We have learnt well from our oppressors.

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