THIS past week saw some of South Africa’s top judges demanding a retraction of remarks made by former ANC youth league leader Andile Lungisa that ‘his case was unfairly decided because of political pressure and affiliation”.
If everything was hunky dory in our Republic, the erstwhile ANC deployee, would have zero basis for making such statements, and given the deteriorating circumstances, still serve his time, but I fear things have gone from bad to worse.
The deplorable situation in which certain members of the judiciary, (and I include acting judges such as Halton Cheadle) appear to be actively involved in petty party politics, (beneficiaries of party-political largesse, if not on the payroll), is only magnified by the recent statements of the Chief Justice and the various cases brought against the nation’s many juristocrats.
If the Judge Hlophe saga doesn’t raise ones ire about the status quo in which there is a visible lack of opprobrium and absence of a functioning civilian mechanism of discipline within the broader profession itself, then the public surely needs to be reminded that it was Judge Hlophe himself who called for a commission of inquiry into his own behaviour?
Certainly a case of deferral, deflection and proverbial passing-of-the-buck, to quasi-governmental commissions which have shown themselves unable and unwilling to deliver on decades of inquiry and complaint? What next, news that Hlophe has appointed his wife as the chairperson in charge?
Will Zondo spend the next decade taking testimony which would best be considered by a grand jury comprising the National Provincial of Councils, if not the entire legislature?
That there remain institutional problems inherited from the past which have not disappeared under the new dispensation is abundantly clear. The Western Cape division is a veritable Vorster bantustan, its chambers replete with photographs of apartheid-era judges going back to colonial times.
A division which persists in promoting an anti-Secular, anti-Enlightenment, multiracialist and multiregionalist ‘nouveu-apartheid’, can only be condemned.
The untenable situation in which legal professionals are elevated to the status of nobility within a juristocracy out-of-kilter with our non-racial democracy may be demonstrated by the abject failure of the Judicial Services Commission to do anything about several complaints before it, including my own.
But let’s not run away with the Lungisa debacle, and belittle the irony of the situation, forgetting the real predicament of those within the very self-same political formations responsible for bending the judiciary to their egregious aims.
At the end of the day it is the ruling party which is to blame.