Quote of the week

The unhappy fact that it is journalists, investigating organs of state and officialdom and the political class and their involvement in corrupt practices to loot the State’s resources, who, by so doing, attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the State to smell out their adversaries, cannot be ignored. The examples of abuse of the system have been addressed elsewhere in this judgment. Moreover, the respondents’ perspectives assume that the designated judge is not lied to and is diligent… In my view, in the absence of a rebuttal, this example illustrates a grave vulnerability in RJCA that such an apparent abuse could occur. The common cause examples of blatant lies being told to the designated judge further exacerbates the vulnerability of the system.

Sutherland J
Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others
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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