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.
According to ANC sources Lekota also made a decisive intervention at the ANC caucus meeting last Monday during the debate about the Bill, telling those members of the caucus who oppose same sex marriage that they had no choice but to support the Civil Union Bill. Same-sex marriage was a matter of discrimination, not of conscience, and the ANC had always been against discrimination of any kind.
The reason for this support stems from Lekota’s days as a Delmas treason trialist in the late eighties. One of his co-accused was Simon Nkoli who came out of the closet to his comarades during the trial. This action and the debates it inspired (they had lots of time to debate in those Delmas prison cells) prompted UDF leaders such as co-defendants Popo Molefe and Patrick Lekota to recognize homophobia as a form of oppression. Nkoli tragically died of Aids related ilness in 1998.
It just goes to show how people can change their view once confronted with a real life homosexual/black person/American. I will drink a glass of wine in honour of Nkoli tonight. Without him, and without people like Lekota who saw the link between various kinds of oppression, the Civil Union Bill would not have been possible. Neither would our progressive Constitution.