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)
8 February 2007

Zuma still innocent – but tainted

Jacob Zuma’s lawyers will today file papers in court opposing the NPA’s request for the release of the documents from Mauritius. The documents apparently show that Zuma met with French Arms company executive Alain Thetard and Schabir Shaik in Durban on 11 March 2000.

As a legal matter, Zuma and his lawyers are of course perfectly within their rights to oppose the request because if admitted the documents could help convict Zuma and send him to jail for 15 years.

As a political matter though, I am surprised that no one is asking why Mr Zuma would want to oppose an application for a release of the documents. If he is innocent as he professes, he surely would be glad for all the relevant documents to be placed before a court because it could only prove his innocence.

By opposing this application he places himself in a politically awakward position, because it suggests that there is something to hide.

Unfortunately Mr Zuma and his supporters have so bamboozled commentators and the general public with their bleetings about being innocent until proven guilty, that few people are prepared to make a political or ethical judgment against Mr Zuma before he is actually convicted of a crime.

Plain common sense tells me that Mr Zuma might still be innocent, but that he is decidedly not untainted by the criminal investigation and his response to it.

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