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.
The State of the Nation address seems less defensive and more self-critical than any that came before. I was struck especially by this quote:
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Certainly, we cannot erase that which is ugly and repulsive and claim the happiness that comes with freedom if communities live in fear, closeted behind walls and barbed wire, ever anxious in their houses, on the streets and on our roads, unable freely to enjoy our public spaces. Obviously, we must continue and further intensify the struggle against crime.
While we have already surpassed that targeted figure of 152 000 police officers employed in the South African Police Service, and while we have improved the training programme, we recognise the fact that the impact of this is not yet high enough for everybody to feel a better sense of safety and security. While we have reduced the incidence of most contact crimes, the annual reduction rate with regard to such categories as robbery, assault and murder is still below the 7-10% that we had targeted. And the abuse of women and children continues at an unacceptable level.