The independence of our courts is essential

2010-03-27 10:21

IT cannot be a coincidence that just a few days after ANC Youth

League leader Julius Malema visited Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye in prison, the

chief state prosecutor in the ­trial was allegedly instructed by prosecutions

boss Menzi Simelane not to oppose bail.


Both Malema and Simelane are among the so-called Zuma

“untouchables”.


According to newspaper reports, the order was given three times to

André Lambrecht, the chief state prosecutor of the West Rand. And Lambrecht

­refused three times. Now he has been ­relieved of his duties or, if the NPA is

to be believed, simply “reassigned”.


Since then magistrate André Auret has granted bail of R10?000 to

Jub Jub, who is facing murder charges over his involvement in a car race which

ended in the deaths of four schoolboys in Soweto.


There was a strong case against bail in this matter – the artist

tested positive for drugs and his appearances in court have been marred by

protests and threats of violence in Soweto, where pupils were vehemently opposed

to him being granted bail.


It is by no means the first time there have been allegations about

high-level interference in court matters.


It is not so long ago that Cape Judge President John Hlophe was

accused of seeking to ­influence the outcome of ­Constitutional Court cases

which involved then ANC president Jacob ­Zuma.


Although the Judicial ­Service Commission eventually decided that

Hlophe was not guilty of gross misconduct, the debacle left a bitter

taste.


Our hard-won democracy guarantees the separation of executive,

legislative and judicial powers in South Africa. The independence of the law is

enshrined in the Constitution.


We, the citizens of this country, cannot sit idly by and endorse

even a suggestion of interference in the independence of the courts. If we allow

that, we turn our backs on democracy and endorse anarchy.


Simelane’s fitness to hold his position is already the subject of

two separate proceedings triggered by a lack of confidence in his integrity and

­impartiality.


The Bar Council is conducting an inquiry and the DA has an

application pending to have his appointment as National Director of Public

Prosecutions reviewed and set aside.


When Simelane, with his very questionable past in the justice

department, was appointed as National Prosecuting Athourity head by Zuma, it was

seen by many as blatant disregard of the Constitution and the law.


That decision, it seems, is now bearing fruit – and what rotten

fruit it is.


It also begs the question: What other cases might Simelane be

meddling in? We worry.

 

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