Quote of the week

Over the last 150 days we have learned much about the power of the habitual in post-millennial, post-apartheid South Africa. We have heard it in the grumbling, cavilling, quarrelling and grousing about the logic (or lack of) of government decrees. We have also seen it in the defiance of logic among the many bourgeois folks who mistook their entitlement for rights, whether to go running, do yoga on the beach, surf, get takeaway coffees, or to purchase items subjected to restricted trade… We saw it in the contradictory messages relayed by official government channels, in the conflict between some experts advising government, between government officials and such experts, and in the ways in which opposition parties contradicted themselves as they opposed government proclamations.

Angelo Fick
Johannesburg Review of Books
15 February 2007

"Their spledid eland has waded too far…"

Justice Willis of the Witwatersrand Division of the High Court seemed to have had considerable fun in writing his judgment in INGLEDEW v THEODOSIOU 2006 (5) SA 462 (W). Here are some extracts illustrating his verbal gymnastics. (Thanks to Craig for pointing this out to me):

“[T]he first defendant is what the newspapers would nowadays refer to as a ‘property tycoon’ or a ‘property mogul’ (without in any way intending any disrespect to the Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin which ruled much of India in the 16th to 19th centuries).”

. . . .

“[T]he first defendant made the classic error of ‘imperial overreach’. Like a splendid eland that has waded too far into a water-hole to get the advantage of the best water, he became mired in a bog in which his situation was desperate. The predators were circling.”

. . . . .

“But facts, the significance of which may each be as light as a feather, can accumulate to create a bag so heavy that it can deliver a resounding and even deathly blow. That, in my view, has happened in this case.”

. . . . . .

“In Ex parte Coney , 1952 (3) SA 745 (SR) Quénet J (as he then was) quoted with approval Jelf J in Booth v Walkden Spinning and Manufacturing Co Ltd , [1909] 2 KB 268. in which Jelf J had said:

‘First come first served is one of the necessary axioms of this life of ours.’

With due respect to both Jelf and Quénet JJ, I do not consider this ‘axiom’ to be an axiom at all. It is not a self-evident truth. See, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary . It is, more likely, part of the enduring (and perhaps even endearing) morality of English public schoolboys. But, as anyone who has been a little boy at boarding school will know, it is a less than perfect summary of justice.”

Wonder whether Justice Willis ever attended a boarding school? Hilton? Michealhouse?

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