MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Siegfried Walther
Comments: 5
Article views: 1
Latest Badges:

View all Siegfried Walther's badges.

Protestors have no place near courts

01 June 2013, 08:36

In this country, and even in the United States, the sight of chanting protesters standing outside Courts of law brandishing banners is an all too common sight. Many will recall the Michael Jackson trial where one group called for the star’s conviction on charges of child molestation whilst another group consisting mainly of his fans, declared him to be innocent.

Armed with a curious assortment of prejudices or misguided loyalties, not to mention a generous helping of propaganda and media driven sensation, most such protestors then proceed to vent as loudly as possible in the hope that the Judge will be so impressed by their commotion and by the sheer numbers involved he might be persuaded to rule in their favour irrespective of what is said in Court by the litigants and their qualified legal representatives.

In a democratic society, the public are of course entitled to air their views. They are also entitled to organise and to vote in order to give effect to their convictions.  However, the right to protest has no place in a legal system.

At the heart of any democracy lies the concept of the division of the legislative, the executive and the judicial powers.  It is generally accepted that the judiciary should be completely independent. The people have the power to select the lawmakers and to select those who enforce the law. But once the law is to be judged, the people and the other arms of government must give way to the independence of the judiciary and to the rule of law.

The idea that judges have to listen to the loud, and often ignorant voices of a mob gathered outside the court is an anathema to any system of justice.  One can have mob rule or one can have courts of law based upon the rule of law. It is not possible to have both. God forbid that the innocence or guilt of a person should ever be determined by a chanting mob rather than by the methodical, reasoned consideration of evidence and of legal argument. It is only through the latter process that the certainty and consistency and ultimately the justice to which legal systems aspire can be achieved.

Of course, in some cultures, the views of some or all of the adults in the community played a central role in what one might refer to as a community based system of justice. Usually the adults, or only male adults in some cases, are all entitled to have their say in the case, and the elders or the chief then proceeds to make a decision.  In adopting our constitution, we moved away from such a system of justice to one based on the rule of law.

I would imagine, however, that even in community courts, the hearings were surely also conducted in a quiet, respectful and dignified manner, and probably not in front of chanting mobs.

The Anglo American system of community involvement in the form of juries who preside in some criminal cases is another form of limited community involvement in the justice system. Once again, however, jury trials follow strict procedures and loud mobs do not play any role at all.

I have watched as DA and ANC supporters have been bussed in to participate in loud protests in front of the High Court.  In some cases, I have had reason to suspect that many of these protestors have been lured by promises of food rather by any deeply held conviction about the issue of the day.

It is essential not only that Courts of law must in fact function independently as they are duty bound to do, but also that they are also seen to be independent.  For this reason there cannot be any place for chanting protestors and their banners anywhere near a court of law. A protestor free exclusion zone, of around one kilometre (or so) in all directions around every Court should be declared. No-one should be permitted to protest or to display banners within such zone. This would not only serve as a mark of respect for the independence of the Judges in our Courts of law, but it also serves to overtly affirm that Courts are places of reason, argument, evidence, contemplation and of law and justice, and that there is no place for mob rule in such system.

I recall that such an exclusion zone was declared around the Court in the OJ Simpson trial in California. No-one was permitted to protest or to display banners or posters within that zone.

An OJ fan attempted to get around this by opening a stand within the zone in which she dispensed free orange juice to onlookers. The stand bore a sign which read:

            “FREE  OJ!”

Despite the ingenuity, for which the lady deserves full credit, the police quite correctly shut her stand down.

 Justice cannot be determined by having regard to the force of numbers or by having regard to who shouts the loudest. The rule of law must prevail and our courts ought accordingly to operate at a suitable distance from those who seek to influence or to intimidate our judges as they carry out their duties.

Nothing will be lost by not having the supporters of corrupt politicians all reciting recently acquired refrains to the effect that their leaders are innocent and that the fraud charges against them are simply a conspiracy. These protests are even more annoying when one considers that many of those expressing such forceful views have not considered it necessary to first conduct any investigations of their own prior to arriving at their conclusions.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Mohammed Parak
Zero Gravity

It's not everyday that a thought comes up, highlighting something you didn't know before. Read more...

0 comments 372 views
Submitted by
Could Glencore be wiped out?

Glencore is a stock that everyone’s talking about, but the mining giant has collapsed again. Read more...

0 comments 2906 views
Submitted by
The Scribe
In Defence of Dianne Kohler-Barna...

The media, especially social media is all agog about THAT Facebook share by Dianne Kohler-Barnard. Read more...

0 comments 2742 views
Submitted by
Michael Ernest Meder
Crime entitlement

Entitlement is a major underlying cause of crime.

0 comments 251 views
Submitted by
Mike Van Wyk
Should big banks offer more unsec...

Since the crisis of 2008, the major banks have gone back to providing their fundamental function, but have been slow to keep pace with the growing demand for loans by South Africans. Read more...

0 comments 966 views
Submitted by
Stishera Khumalo
Corruption - Enough is Enough

Corruption has gone too far now.

0 comments 2109 views


E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2015 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.