The Cape Law Society (CLS) has noted the reaction of some sections of society to the judgment of the North Gauteng High Court in the matter of Corruption Watch and Another versus The President of RSA and Others that was delivered on 8 December 2017.
The CLS is not concerned with the merits of the cases brought to court by the different parties in the matter that served before the court. Our concern lies with the reaction that has been reported.
It is important to state upfront that the CLS accepts that courts are not infallible, hence there are provisions for appeals and reviews where grounds exist to challenge the decisions of the courts. These steps, however, are conducted with the required decorum to ensure that the dignity of the courts and the judicial system is upheld. Parties who invoke these processes submit themselves to the processes and the outcomes without the option of impugning the courts. When a matter reaches the apex court in South Africa, all parties must know and accept that the judgment that comes from the Constitutional Court is final and binding on all of us.
The CLS regrets the statements attributed to Minister Bathabile Dlamini that seem to suggest that the court was lobbied by one or other group in society or in the matter. No serious observer will believe that Minister Bathabile Dlamini has evidence to support her claims for we believe that if she had such evidence, she would surely have shared this with her lawyers or made the evidence public.
Leaders of public organisations must know that some sections of society will accept that which is said by leaders as true and so must be careful not to abuse their role in society by attacking the judiciary in our country. Attacks on the judiciary undermine the standing of the courts in the minds of the people. It must be remembered that the judiciary finely appreciates its role as one of the arms of government, as is evinced in the judgments that are public record.
The CLS has noted with serious concern the inflammatory words like ‘judicial coup’ that were used by some of those who commented. Others spoke about ‘judicial overreach’ in an effort to interfere with the independence of the judiciary and to force the judiciary to ponder the undefined concept of ‘judicial overreach’ whenever they need to decide constitutional matters. We again call on all responsible leaders of public organisations to desist from bringing the judiciary and the judicial system into disrepute.
The CLS calls on all those who have complaints against the judiciary to report such complaints to the Judicial Services Commission. A complainant will be required to present evidence to show a prima facie case of misconduct to warrant an investigation.
Issued by: Mr Lulama Lobi, President of The Cape Law Society on behalf of the Council of The Cape Law Society