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)
19 February 2008

Ricard on Hlophe and Tshabalala (and what about the Porsche?)

Carmel Ricard takes up the question of why the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) have not been even handed in their treatment of judges. Writing in The Weekender she asks why Judge President of KwaZulu/Natal, Vuka Tshabalala, had to hand back his almost R7 million in shares received from Tokyo Sexwale’s company while Judge President of the Cape, John Hlophe, was not asked to hand back the money given to him by Oasis.

Money quote:

[W]hy did the commission not tell the outraged public that it had asked Tshabalala to return the shares, and why did it not inform us he had done so? An answer to this question was given this week by commission spokesman Marumo Moerane. Commenting to The Mercury, he said the commission had not made public “the decision” (presumably Tshabalala’s decision to return the shares) because the judge-president had “only orally” informed the chief justice that he had disposed of his shares, and written confirmation was required.

So, you may ask, why haven’t commissioners asked him to set it down in black and white? Since the judge-president complied promptly with the request to return the shares, I can’t imagine that he would refuse to put his acquiescence in writing.

Far more interesting, however, is the fact that, as Moerane put it, “written confirmation was required” by the commission. Obviously, a judge’s word no longer carries the weight it might have done in the past, and it’s now clearly the commission’s default position to disbelieve everything a judge says.

Meanwhile I am told that Judge Hlophe’s brand new black Porsche is now parked every day in the Judge’s parking area. The Judge President is obviously not someone to worry about public perceptions and have convinced the powers that be to give him the Porsche (instead of a lowly BMW or Mercedes Benz) as an official judges car – after agreeing to pay in the difference between the cost of the Porsche and that of a less flashy car he would have otherwise been entitled to as a Judge.

I wonder where he got the money that was paid in to make up the difference between the price of a Porsche and the price of a top end BMW? A BMW 530d E60 Dsl MY05 costs R 495,500 while a midrange PORSCHE 911 Carrera S Coupe costs about R 995,000 and the top end PORSCHE 911/997 Turbo 3.6 Cabriolet 4×4 costs R 1,950,000.

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