Category: Apartheid

Following Reconciliation Day, an open letter to the TRC Commissioners

Messers Desmond Tutu, Sisi Virginia Khampepe, Wynand Malan, Yasmin Sooka, et al.

Dear Commissioners,

I write this letter having had good cause to reflect upon several events of this past year on Reconciliation Day.

It should be noted that Reconciliation Day, formerly ‘Day of the Vow’, or ‘Day of the Covenant’ or ‘Dingaan’s Day’ became the source of some controversy this year when a well-known pastor made a reference to the Covenant within racist terms that brought back memories of the quasi-religious holiday commemorating the ‘Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838′.

As a secular humanist of Jewish origin, I have on more than one occasion, rejected theological justifications for race segregation, in particular the apartheid euphemisms used to justify separate development as a mere ‘accident of nature’, or a ‘miracle of sameness’ and the like.

My beliefs and faith (or lack thereof) unfortunately became the subject of a race-based interrogation of my Jewish identity during the course of an unfair proceeding in 2010 in which absolutely nothing was done to protect my rights. The least of which is that the TRC itself was under the machinations of senior council reduced to ‘merely a commission’, and your report ‘merely a report’. And where those selfsame euphemisms were trotted out to justify racism.

It was thus within a bizarre inversion of reality, that I was deemed not to ‘be a credible person’ on the basis of my ‘opposition to apartheid’, by a corrupt adjudicator presiding, it appears, without the necessary authority, over a matter effecting not only his own client, but also his business partners. All explained away in a report to the Cape Law Society in which a corrupt relationship is justified on the basis of a decision in Bernert v Absa Bank Limited.

The labour proceeding against Media24, was anything but a fair hearing, an ‘irregular proceeding’ if you will —  not only did I not possess an attorney (following the group’s 2007 gagging attempts which put paid to my legal insurance), but I was further restrained from calling any witnesses. I was therefore not present when the decision was handed down, was not granted leave to appeal, nor did I secure a successful petition to appeal to the Labour Appeal Court.  This after the respondent’s ecclesiastical case alleging inter alia, I was more than simply a “Jew in breach of my religion” but also ‘guilty of driving a car on a Friday night, and/or attending a mixed race nightclub apparently in violation of my religion’. Nothing less than a piece of savage quackery, written up by the respondent and cut and pasted, and handed down as the purported decision of the court.

In 2015 I thus filed a distantly related complaint before the Equality Court against then Min. of Justice Micheal Masutha and also Naspers, the holding company of Media24, citing the former’s failure to exercise powers in terms of the TRC Act and thus the astonishing failure of the TRC Unit to defend both the TRC and its recommendations from ongoing acts and omissions in the face of racism and a culture of impunity.

My filing sheet thus also listed an apartheid media company named as a ‘gross perpetrator of human rights violations’ in the final report that all TRC commissioners signed off on. It was filed two days before Media24 issued a mea culpa to the heavens referencing one case-limited example of a single ’employee of colour’, Conrad Sidego, who had apparently experienced problems with separate amenities.

It further went on to list several shortcomings of the first TRC, in particular the failure to deal with extra-curial evidence — evidence arising after, and subsequent to the first commissions winding up. It noted other failures, including errors with acronyms, Congress of South African Writers ( COSAW) is not Congress of South African War Resisters (COSAWR).  It may be demonstrated that TRC One represents the absence of an in-depth inquiry into the role played by women, war resisters, the struggle press, the environmental movement, the use of technology by the state, coercive psychiatry and so on.

Despite the merits of the case,  I once again found myself in court sans attorney and I was eventually granted leave to formerly seek legal aid by Judge Bozalek after the Equality Court had previously acted under Judge Veldhuisen to deny me access to legal aid.

I thus sued Legal Aid SA in a collateral matter before the High Court, Western Cape, which took some three years of my time.

It was more than a little alarming to find that in the interim, ‘apartheid memory’ had been relegated to the dust-heap by our judiciary, alongside our constitution. That portraits of apartheid and colonial judges still hung from chambers, and AJ Martin of the High Court of SA, now agreed with a racist merit report by John van Onselen, of Legal Aid SA, stating in his decision of 2019, that he was now ‘entirely satisfied that the TRC report would take a long time to read, and may thus be ignored’.

Despite my application for leave to appeal the racist decision, and despite oral testimony citing the High Court’s misreading of the Separation of Powers, (Legal Aid SA is not a constitutional entity as such, but rather directly answerable to parliament — a result of the Legal Aid Act, which makes LASA subject to the Public Finance Management Act, as a Schedule 3 entity alongside Boxing SA) both the application for leave and for Martin’s recusal from the proceeding were rejected out of hand. In the process a racist exclusion to the Preamble was created, one which has had the deleterious effect of derogating rights commonly held under our constitution.

As we near the end of 2019 following a troubling period in which several well-known activists of my generation have passed away, including Peter Horn, Sandile Dikeni and Ben Turok, I find myself reaching out to a public case that has been at the back of my mind ever since the TRC Report was released.

Surely, you as commissioners knew that when you signed your name to the report, that it was an incomplete report at best, and would require further redress in the future?

Surely,  you as commissioners, knew that when the TRC Act was promulgated under the interim constitution, that it was a necessary pre-condition for the constituent assembly to pass Act 108 of 1996, in other words our Constitution, whose Preamble says, ‘recognising the injustices of the past’?

Surely, TRC commissioners are aware that if you did not broker any guarantees from the state, to make good on the recommendations issued that you would be opening the doors to accusations that you are yourselves complicit in a crime against humanity and the after-effects thereof?

Surely you as commissioners are aware that in doing nothing except write letters to our President, of which there have been quite a few following the winding up of the first inquiry, that you would indeed, stand accused, as you do now, of doing absolutely nothing of any consequence to uphold the legal framework upon which the entire transitional justice arrangement was based, and that anyone wishing to bring civil litigation to defend rights in law is now faced with the odious task of defending the public record left by yourselves?

I therefore have no hesitation in stating here on Reconciliation Day, that the current TRC process is an abject failure.

Not simply because of the conduct of the Minister’s TRC Unit, but because of the collective conduct of the TRC commissioners.

Instead of defending the report to which you have placed your signature, you have instead been regaling all and sundry on the joys of turning the other cheek, travelling the world like religious pilgrims claiming to have discovered a novel process of reconciliation.

Engaging conference after conference and airtravel that merely pumps out CO2 while promoting your own estate as a national treasure and depriving the victims of restitution.

Those persons like myself, who were never called to testify, and yet suffered the consequences of apartheid dirty tricks need to be told the truth.

Future generations and ordinary South Africans need to be told the truth of what has occurred in the name of the TRC and in the the name of justice.

I beg your forgiveness, as fellow citizens, it may no doubt still be in the public interest to motion for yet another TRC process, TRC Two.

Sincerely yours

D R Lewis

 

SEE: Corruption could undermine the integrity of SA’s legal profession

SEE: Mogoeng Mogoeng’s lack of judgment

Deep Fakes, AI and the New Electronic Struggle

THE PRESIDENT’S youngest son Tumelo Ramaphosa recently appeared on national television, punting blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and a digital financial future. Some of his previous projects include turning wildlife into digital tokens via a crypocurrency investment scheme for stud farmers called StudEX, and a swathe of more ephemeral ways to fleece (some might say leverage) the startup space in San Francisco.

Apparently drones to track SA wildlife conservation efforts are being funded in part by auctioning off Dad’s bulls via cryptocoins. Aside from the unfair advantage that comes with being the president’s son, one can think of far better ways of spending one’s pocket money than reducing animals to mere fractions.

As Elon Musk stated during his encounter with Jack Ma, ‘don’t assume that artificial intelligence research is being conducted by intelligent people’. Indeed there are many critical and exceedingly dystopian concerns about the emerging paradigm that looks set to surpass humanities ability to comprehend the impacts of AI.

A recent research paper published by Yale fellow Michael Kwet paints a rather bleak picture of how smart CCTV networks are driving an AI apartheid. 

In the process video analytics are reinforcing racial and class divisions,  creating a world in which the poor are lo and behold, excluded by the rich. The latest round of criticism has an eerie similarity to my complaint made to the US press back in the 1980s. In a letter published under a pseudonym and carried prominantly by cyberpunk magazine Mondo 2000 I outlined the manner in which the apartheid regime had weaponized the banking sector, deploying ATMs as a convenient means of entrapping activists.

The complaint predated the later unsuccessful IBM case brought alongside a suite of apartheid litigation against Ford and other US companies, which unfortunately never made it out of the starting blocks, thanks to overly broad generalisations in the founding papers, lack of public interest here and abroad, and a US second circuit decision striking down the Alien Torts Act.

Suffice to say, that IBM were most certainly responsible for the technology behind the Dompas and thus apartheid race classification technology.

The mind shudders to think what would have happened if the apartheid state had access to AI technology, although somehow I like to think that the anti-apartheid movement would have probably hooked onto blockchain and crypto in the same way that Rhodes Must Fall/ Fees Must Fall took to social media.

If the thought of racist rednecks weaponising AI is a little disturbing, a recent news article warned that a group called OpenAI had ‘declined to release research publicly for fear of misuse.’ Apparently “the creators of a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction – dubbed “deepfakes for text” – have taken the unusual step of not releasing their research publicly, for fear of potential misuse.

The ability to fake and control news in the process driving public influence is not a new concern, as movies such as Videodrome (1983) and Network (1976) have already pointed out.

What is new, are privacy concerns such as mine, about the potential of AI to unlock passwords, defeat cryptography, and reassemble data in new and innovative ways. On the flipside, AI will improve our understanding of past civilisations, forgotten languages and art. Like any tool it may be used for good and bad.

A Japanese research team using AI recently uncovered some 2000 new Nasca lines, previously invisible images in the Peruvian desert.

Back home, this jump in processing power, represents an incredible opportunity to recover ancient memory lost to pre-colonialism. Settlements such as Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe have a lot to offer. Deciphering and protecting texts surrounding the university of Timbuktu, will undoubtedly grow in leaps and bounds, but not if AI is simple code for venture capital and used tech salesmen,  while our nation’s research institutions are quietly stripped of intellectual capital.

Again, AI for all its scifi brohaugh is really a misnomer, the correct and better phrase is ‘machine learning’. Its a synonym for AI, not a sub-set as in ‘reinforcement learning’.

In particular, the terrain of intercultural communication could take off in significant ways, if our country were to set national goals, for instance providing each and every citizen with the tools to communicate across the linguistic divisions which have traditionally acted as hurdles to our understanding of each other.

As an individual afflicted by the presence of several African languages each competing for his or her attention within my own household, I can only hope that instead of auctioning off bulls via blockchain like our president’s son, our nations youths, instead present us with with a workable plan to grant each and every South African the benefit of instantaneous machine translation — a fact of life still missing from the Southern African region, but surely one that will become a boon in the future?

UPDATE: Ramaphosa’s son slammed for cancelling conference without notice

Ramaphosa Junior’s blockchain belly-flop

 

Angus Buchan: The Covenant of Double Standards

SOUTH AFRICA is unique in the world so far as right-wing Christian theology is concerned. The so-called ‘Covenant of Blood River‘ is one of the few instances in which settlers went far beyond racist concepts such as ‘manifest destiny’ and ‘eminent domain. The Boers literally declared themselves one of the lost tribes of the Hebrews at the Battle of Blood River, which during apartheid was remembered as the Day of the Vow. After 1994, the holiday became Reconciliation Day.

We should thank Angus Buchan for putting his foot into the racist muck, because in so doing he stepped on a minefield of racist cant and apartheid theology, of the type espoused by Media24 council and one AJ Cheadle, who during 2010 thought nothing of reframing my case of racism and race profiling, to summarise, as a contravention of the ‘Covenant governing the South African People’.

The bizarre statement made by controversial evangelist Angus Buchan that ‘only Jewish and Afrikaans people have a covenant with God’ was met with derision, and caused quite a flap amongst those seeking to score cheap political points at the same time that they patently ignore the ecclesiastical charges put to me by our politically-compromised general bar and judiciary.

Apparently I am in breach of “God’s Will” for referring to a Media24 editor’s statements about the effects of apartheid separate development, being pretty damn close to the racist dogma touted by the NGK before they dumped theological justifications for apartheid. Race segregation is not a current teaching of any major religion.

Calling the after-effects of ‘separate development’ a mere ‘coincidence of homogeneity’ i.e an accident of nature (all memorialised in the decision written up by the respondent), while pushing a hard-line on Sabbath observance, is so beneath the pale that the corrupt judgement deserves a comparison with the statements made by Buchan and commentators such as Alan Horwitz.

According to Horwitz quoted in the daily press ‘there was no special covenant that the Jewish people had with any higher force’. Accordingly Jewish people have  merely an ‘obligation’ to ensure that the 10 Commandments are followed and adhered to. “This does not mean we are elevated above anyone else,” he said.

The gist of the racist and irregularly-gained 2010 decision in which I was restrained from calling any witnesses, and did not possess an attorney remains in full view of the public. The sole witness for the respondent was allowed to make false statements under oath including defamatory remarks regarding several music-industry related articles and interviews — and  apparently I was the one holding up the Covenant i.e God’s Law whilst seeking to break it by attending a mixed race music venue on a Friday evening.

All my papers filed in the matter refer to my wish to defend my Jewish identity and culture from racism and Anti-Semitism i.e. opposition to secular Jewish identity.

Furthermore, all my evidence lead in the matter refer to the fact that Judaism is not monolithic, thus there are many divergences within Judaism, in particular the Enlightenment put an end to the bizarre belief that the ‘Torah was written by God hand’, and so far as I am concerned, what one does on a Friday night is a private matter between oneself and one’s maker, the same way that freedom of religion is also freedom from the religious views of others.

South Africa, a country which banned the Dalai Lama, is a secular country in name only. Its people continue to espouse pathetic, libellous and racist views, whilst critics equally engage in apartheid double-standards.

As we speak, I am also one of the few citizens to be excluded in recent times,  from the Preamble to our Constitution.

I therefore beseech readers to reconsider their views on the subject.

 

 

 

 

 

Rugby World Cup: Non-Racialism vs Multi-Racialism

BEFORE a global audience of millions, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanked the nation following his side’s historic Rugby World Cup win on Saturday. So far as Kolisi was concerned, this was yet another miracle, a wonderful example of ‘the different races working together‘ he said, to bring an historic victory that recaptured the spirit of the 1995 rugby world cup.

The interview was soon followed up by news reports with headings such as ‘Boks thrive on racial unity‘.

If it all seemed a little contrived, former adversaries segregated under apartheid making good on the promise of reconciliation by bringing victory, not simply in green and gold, but black and white, under the first black captain to do so, then you’re probably in the same boat.

Government officials, including the president, had made no bones about the opportunity for nation-building presented by a third victory in Yokohama.

And yet little more than two weeks ago, former President Thabo Mbeki had put pen to paper, to write an opinion-piece, berating the opposition DA, and fedex chair Helen Zille for deploying the exact same multi-racial ‘race-speak’ as the springbok captain. The DA’s twisted explanations of the controversial events surrounding the resignation of several prominent black members from the party, including Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane are public record.

It appears Mbeki wished “to emphasise that, consistent with our Constitution, all our registered political formations have an absolute obligation practically to contribute to the national effort to make ours a non-racial country.

It was thus Zille’s badly thought out statement:  “There are racists of all races in South Africa” which jarred when it came to the outspoken non-racialism articulated by the ruling party, and for which Mbeki was now going so far as to remind other political formations, that there was also in effect, a constitutional imperative to reject multi-racialism.

If what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, why wasn’t Kolisi’s aftermatch statement equally jarring as Zille’s, despite a winning game? Why was it okay for a black man to refer to separate and distinct races, but the same didn’t apply to a white woman?

And please forgive me, why is race and racism here, starting to sound like a definition of straight marriage, right out of the period of gay prohibition? In other words, racism can only be experienced by a person defined as black by apartheid race classification, circular logic if ever there was one?

It should be remembered, that history also records the epic journey from the ‘multi-racialism’ of the Freedom Charter to the ‘non-racialism’ of our Bill of Rights. Indeed, the ANC were not the first to articulate such a progressive vision, the late Robert Sobukwe founder of the PAC, went so far as to assert before Mandela adopted this type of language during the period of reconciliation, “ there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race”, and similarly,”multiracialism is racism multiplied”.

That the then multiracial ANC of the 1950s found itself in power as avowed non-racialists in the 1990s, while the much larger, at the time, PAC is in danger of withering away in the ranks of the opposition is no small lesson of history.

Which brings one to the point invariably raised here, that of semantics, is this all just nitpicking about words, and was Kolisi not entitled to make his remarks, as was Zille?

Not if one believes in South African exceptionalism — that we have somehow overcome the race question as a nation of non-racialists, at least on paper.

Not if one wishes to adopt a scientific approach to the problem of race, since, correctly there is no race when it comes to Humans, (as the recent National Geographic Race Issue, suggested, the matter has been laid to rest for quite some time). Bare in mind that the multi-regionalist theory of human evolution has been resoundingly shot down by mainstream scientists along with much South African paleontological research on the basis of race, conducted prior to the 1980s.

And certainly not if one wishes to remain consistent as a patriot with the non-racial principles governing our constitution instead of practising double standards. (It is still a mystery why our jingoistic media and captured legal system continues to operate on the assumption of race and despite the law).

Thus what Kolisi might have said differently, if he didn’t have a coach like “Rassie Erasmus” whose name itself is a strange cipher for race, and if we were not so obsessed with categorising differences and separating people into ‘race’ groups?  Surely a project doomed to failure? And yet one quixotically given sanction despite our constitution, by certain racist legal authorities who deserve to be outed.

Kolisi could have said: ‘We all came together in our differences’, or ‘our people as a nation have differences but we are essentially all the same’, instead he chose to walk the same path as Helen Zille in articulating race as a conceptual framework through which we view our world. So much for the game of rugby.

And ditto the great South African experiment in non-racialism, i.e the absence of race-based thinking.

For all the springboks prowess on the field, one cannot help wondering why there was no coaching on the tricky subject of anti-racism especially when it came to a captain delivering a message to the entire world? And a team which just a brief few hours prior to winning the world cup, had received a pep talk from none other than President Ramaphosa himself?

And surely if we believe Mbeki, that ours is a country based upon the premise and promise of a non-racial future?

Which leaves us with another Sobukwe gem also taken from the 1959 Opening Address at the Africanist Inaugural Convention: “In Afrika the myth of race has been propounded and propagated by the imperialists and colonialists from Europe, in order to facilitate and justify their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. It is from this myth of race with its attendant claims of cultural superiority that the doctrine of white supremacy stems”.

A myth indeed.

 

 

Mogoeng is misinformed, disingenuous and unhelpful

IN A LENGTHY statement to the press early this month, South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng warned those ‘making allegations against judges and the judiciary to stop hiding behind fictional identities or names’

He claimed further that he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

“Only a sworn enemy of our constitutional democracy would make allegations so grave against the judiciary without the evidence to back them up.”

He said he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

“Make your true identity and contact details known to us and the South African public. Tell us which judge has been captured, corrupted and by whom.”

The chief justice said for the sake of a South Africa that deserves a corruption-free judiciary, those making allegations should be willing to give evidence even in a court of law.

He said he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

That the Chief Justice was being disingenuous and more than unhelpful can be demonstrated by the fact that Independent Media have published criticism of the judiciary as a prominent OP-ED piece under my own byline, not a nom de guerre , in which I proceed to refer to a sworn affidavit and supporting documents regarding the capture of a well-known member of the legal profession performing judicial duties.

Medialternatives can reveal that the individual, who presided over a 2010 discrimination case involving his own client and business partners is none other than Halton Cheadle, and that my affidavit details the lengths to which I have gone in informing inter alia, SAPS, NPA, JSC and the Cape Law Society.

My Op-Ed also makes note of the manner in which South Africa’s justice system has turned into a mere business system, and one should add, a system that is not evidence based per se, but rather an opinion-based system inherited from the past period of colonialism and apartheid.

Until the evidence in my affidavit  is heard before an impartial court of law, in a fair hearing in which I possess an attorney, there is  absolutely no likelihood that the Chief Justice’s advice will be adhered to, and any averments in this regard should be rejected by free-thinking citizens.

Other statements attributed to the Chief Justice claim that he has requested SAPS to investigate allegations against the judiciary, but fail to record that the NPA appears to have a policy of doing nothing about the problem, when it comes to corporate and party-political capture of judicial officers.

 

Let’s face it, South Africa’s judiciary leaves a lot to be desired.

SOUTH AFRICANS may be suffering under a collective delusion, the rule of law. If one reads the latest round of media commentary, we are either stricken with a hopelessly corrupt judicial system, or driven by ulterior motives to question an infallible judiciary. In this binary view judges are either devils in black robes, or angels and saints in silk who can do no wrong.

The reality is that for the most part, we have an imperfect system inherited from a period of apartheid and colonialism. A time when citizens were not accorded equal rights and status before the law.

Attend judges chambers at the High Court of South Africa in Cape Town, and you will be greeted by the portraiture of past judge presidents on floor one, going all the way back to the Cape Colony and Apartheid. Obscene pictures of Centlivres et al, still hang from the walls in an eerie twilight reminiscent of that macabre republic. Our institutions however, are rather proud of their racist lineage, and the tainted display is headed up by a current photograph of a grinning judge president Hlophe, still under investigation by the JSC for misconduct.

Under the present system, the process of impeachment of sitting judges who possess tenure, requires a supermajority in Parliament. The process for the removal of acting judges on the other hand, those drawn from the profession on an ad hoc basis is less clear. The manner in which such persons gain authority, often in conflict with their standing as directors of various law firms and businesses, is an awkward one.

For Raymond Edward Chalom, who has been in the legal profession for almost 50 years, the judiciary is a hotbed of corruption. He says “judges are appointed on the basis of friendship, trade-offs between lobby groups in the sector and affiliation to legal bodies rather than history, legal minds and experience.” I can only concur with this observation and possess an as yet  unserved affidavit alongside supporting documents,  demonstrating the resulting corruption of influence and manifest bias by a well-known member of the profession.

The process of judicial reform has not been easy. The South African system is really just an elegant compromise, for the most part, a sorry colonial edifice to which several innovations such as Family Court, Equality Court and the apex Constitutional Court have been bolted.

And therein lies the rub, since our constitution, a visionary, civil rights document if ever there was one, requires that all citizens gain untrammeled access to rights yet is seemingly oblivious to the reality of a legal process that is overly circuitous and expensive at best. The justice system in our country has unfortunately turned into a mere business system, one designed for millionaires and their cohorts in management and the professions, but where access to justice for ordinary citizens is a practical and tragic impossibility.

Witness Steven Friedman’s recent column in Business Day. According to the newspaper’s resident lefty in the debate among middle-class people which shapes politics, hardly anyone undermines courts and judges. In stating the obvious, (qui bono, who benefits?) Friedman avoids the uncomfortable fact that the majority of the country’s citizens are neither middle-class, nor possessed of sufficient financial clout required to be considered readers of his own column. The working class is drawn from the ranks of the dispossessed, the downtrodden and unemployed, for want of a better phrase.

The reality for most of us, living in the aftermath of a crime against humanity, and several decades of misrule by the ANC, is that nearly every legal issue these days, ends up turning into an expensive constitutional drama, one which only the apex court is able to rectify, resulting in the juniorisation of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal.

For instance it took nearly three decades to end cannabis prohibition via the courts while effecting a delay on the promise of rights gained in 1994.

Sadly the lower courts with one or two exceptions, (cannabis is an exception) have shown themselves either powerless or reticent to enforce new freedoms, preferring to solicit business for the entangled profession. Our Bill of Rights for such individuals is little more than a ‘carrot on a stick’, bread and butter for an academy that has seen fit to create exclusion after exclusion to our rights.

Witness my own troubles with gaining access to legal aid in a matter affecting the life of the TRC and its final report (Lewis v Legal Aid SA). Application dismissed by AJ Martin without so much as leave, in the process creating a racist and unacceptable exclusion to the Preamble to our Constitution. Racism on the bench here has simply grown in leaps and bounds.

The Constitution, for all intents and purposes, adopted in a piecemeal fashion in 1996, has meant that the status quo for the most of us, still resembles the old order, while the new order which was meant to be, including our rights and freedoms, has vanished like a chimera.

Take a problem inherent to any system overly reliant upon the settling of disputes by intermediaries known as attorneys. In this jury-less world, professional jurists, comprising entirely of members of the self-same profession of law, adjudicate and interpret law, and then deem themselves fit to determine the facts.

The result is a system that is not evidence-based as such but rather scholastic, obscurantist, medieval. The Earth circles the Sun, well that’s just an opinion so far as these hucksters are concerned.

When it comes to facts about apartheid, the profession has not been exactly the cradle of rocket scientists. Witness PW Botha’s successful defense of his racist position in the face of a subpoena by the TRC. Or Wouter Basson, a darling of the courts.

South Africa is certainly stricken by an over-reliance on interpretation and opinion. Not evidence-based terrain so much as thick, fat, obscenely bureaucratic, opinion-based largess writ large. Access to a jury option in capital crimes and defamation cases would put such quibbles to rest.

Spare a thought for the victims of rape, in case after case, often dropped by the justice system, or reduced in value by the lack of mandatory sentencing for offenders, making rape no longer a capital crime in South Africa so far as the law is concerned.

On the whole South Africa’s legal system is too caught up with kowtowing to prevailing authority from the old days, to notice when it gets science spectacularly wrong. Instead of deriving truth from facts, as a nation, we tend to derive truth from ideology, in this respect our legal system is no different. Ditto the debate on legal positivism, and a position that is increasingly absent in our supposed secular world.

Attorney’s writing up judgements, well, that’s just par for the course.

Acting judges advertising their services and experience on the bench to clients when they’re not moonlighting as articled clerks — just another modern innovation in letters.

Apartheid happened, separate development, the Land Act — all facts not speculative conjecture, as our courts have deemed fit under the Cheadle Doctrine, while slipping into a void of  fantasy and fable. Apartheid denial is the very essence of a decision handed down by the labour court in 2010, in which I myself am the complainant.

Where jokes have abounded that ‘the rule of law so frequently turns into the law of rules’, I merely have to cite my own sad experience with a rotten system to observe that the law has failed us all miserably.

published in part, in Star & Daily News 12/9/2019

Rethinking the Courtroom

Justice for Neil Aggett

TIMES LIVE reports that justice minister Ronald Lamola apparently wants the deaths of anti-apartheid activists Neil Aggett and Hoosen Haffejee to be re-investigated. Only time can tell if he is serious this time.

Lamola announced on Friday, according to the online daily, that he had requested the judges president of the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal divisions of the high court to each designate a judge to reopen the inquests in relation to the deaths in detention of the activists.

The justice department is reported to have said Lamola’s decision was in terms of Section 17(A) of the Inquest Act of 1959 and follows an application by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the reopening of the inquests.

Readers may remember that Aggett was a doctor who died in detention in Johannesburg in 1982, aged 28. The inquest into his death held that no one was to blame. Yet another reason not to trust the apartheid-era justice system.

READ MORE HERE