Judiciary not being undermined, says Motlanthe

2009-01-23 00:00

Cape Town — Recent claims in the media that South Africa’s judiciary is being undermined are “untrue and without basis”, President Kgalema Motlanthe said at the opening of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice yesterday.

Motlanthe reiterated the government’s commitment to the independence of the judiciary, but said that achieving a common understanding of judicial independence and the boundaries of separation of power between the state and the judiciary remains a challenge in South Africa.

“The challenge presented by the delicate balance [of power that exists between the three arms of government and the judicial system] is particularly important in our country, where the executive has a duty to implement policies that are necessary to transform a society …

“Our Constitution is explicit [in that it] … obliges organs of state to co-operate with one another and act in mutual trust.”

He said that if the judicial system is to contribute to rebuilding and developing society, inequalities must be addressed.

“We still have a problem where those of us with deep pockets have greater access to justice than the indigent.

“If a rich person is dissatisfied with a judgment,” he said, that person has the resources to appeal — “something that a poor person would battle to do. Clearly, there is a correlation between unequal social conditions and access to justice in modern societies, with the result that the poor and downtrodden often get the short end of the stick in comparable legal conditions,” he added.

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