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.
It has been a long year, with so many political and constitutional twists and turns that it sometimes seemed hard to keep track of events and of who is up and who is down in our politics. The latest seemingly outrageous decision of a Parole Board to release two of the Waterkloof 4 killers to house arrest is just the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made this year by various officials.
I tried to ascertain – by reading the relevant sections of the Correctional Services Act – whether the release of the 2 Waterkloof killers were unlawful, but that Act is not easy to understand and I am just about to embark on holiday and, for the time being, was defeated by the complicated provisions of that Act.
What did strike me is the manner in which this case has been reported in especially parts of the Afrikaans media. Unlike with Schabir Shailk, where the reporting focused on the possible abuse of power in ordering Shaik’s release, some Afrikaans media outlets have been treating this case as if the Waterkloof killers have been the victims of a terrible injustice. How the cold blooded killers of a homeless man can ever be seen as victims is beyond me. I guess sometimes in our society race and language solidarity trumps everything else – including considerations of justice.
In any case, this is probably my last post for the year. I will be back early in the new year. Hope all readers of this Blog have a good holiday.
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