Judge’s peace plea fails

2010-11-13 00:00

AN impassioned plea by Judge Chiman Patel to the warring Inkatha Freedom Party factions and their legal teams to use the lunchtime recess in the high court in Pietermaritzburg to reach a peace settlement fell on deaf ears.

As Patel, the KZN deputy judge president, left the courtroom he turned to the lawyers and asked if they would return from lunch early and get minds to meet.

“And minds must meet,” Patel added.

During lunch-time, supporters of both factions explained that there would be no coming together because the rift between the two factions is too wide.

The case involving IFP National chairwoman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and three expelled party members fighting their dismissal continued into the afternoon.

Magwaza-Msibi also wants the party to hold its delayed elective conference. She claims in her application that the elections are being delayed so that her supporters can be removed from the party.

By the end of proceedings, Patel reserved judgement. The verdict of observers as they left the courtroom is that he will need the wisdom of Solomon to decide on the matter.

Patel had earlier called for peace, saying the IFP had played an important role in the province. It was sad to see brothers and sisters fighting against each other, he said

The court first heard argument by Advocate Omar Moosa SC, representing Wiseman Mcoyi, Nhlanhla Khawula and Thokozani Zulu, who are challenging their expulsion from the party. He argued that the expulsion is unlawful because the terms of office of members of the national council had expired in 2009.

Advocate Kemp J. Kemp SC, for Magwaza-Msibi, said it is unconstitutional to frustrate the right of a member to elect party representatives. IFP advocate Anton Katz SC said in his opening statement that “we should not be here”, arguing that Magwaza-Msibi had brought the matter to court prematurely.

Advocate Angus Stewart, senior counsel for the IFP in the Mcoyi matter, said the party had given an adequate explanation why it could not hold an elective conference.

This was on the advice of the Commissioner of Police, who warned that there would be bloodshed.

Space in the courtroom was limited and each faction was allowed to bring in only 40 members.

At the end of proceedings the groups walked out separately. Magwaza-Msibi went to address her supporters opposite the court.

IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango, accompanied by provincial and national members of parliament, went to address their supporters outside the Bessie Head Library. A fence and a human barrier of police officers separated the factions.

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