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)
25 May 2008

UK Observer on xenophpobic violence

I read the Observer today as I am in Madrid and have no access to the Sunday Crimes. There is a two page article on the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. As is always the case with these things, the article is a bit simplistic, but the headline was striking: ¨End of the Rainbow Nationa?¨ Money quote:

An astounding lack of political delivery surrounds the South African crisis. Neither Mbeki nor his likely successor, Jacob Zuma, have altered their diaries in the past week to visit the displaced or speak to the nation. Instead, ministers, police chiefs and senior civil servants have put their energy into a two-pronged exercise of denial, aimed at proving that the attacks are linked neither to poverty nor to xenophobia. The intention is clearly to deflect any accusations that Mbeki’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ over Zimbabwe has led to an uncontrollable influx of foreigners and, thus, to xenophobia. Neither will the ANC tolerate suggestions that it has neglected its own poor.

Ministers and senior civil servants have gone to extraordinary lengths. National Intelligence Agency director-general Manala Manzini has dusted off struggle rhetoric and claimed that a ‘third force’ – mysterious right-wing ‘elements’ that supported the apartheid regime – is at work with a view to destabilising the 2009 elections.

Others, such as police spokesman Govandsami Mariemuthoo in Gauteng province, insist that ‘copycat criminal elements, not xenophobia’ are at work. As a result, it is now unclear what charges, if any, will be brought against the 400 people police claimed last week had been arrested in connection with the attacks in the Johannesburg area.

The reigning confusion feeds into the foreigners’ widely expressed belief that the attacks have been orchestrated by elements within the ANC – a party that has been deeply divided since Zuma was elected party president against Mbeki’s will last December. Grassroots supporters of the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, which fought the ANC in the early 1990s, are also being accused of involvement.

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