Don't suppress our views on judiciary - Mantashe

2015-07-09 17:02
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Theana Breugem/Foto24

Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Theana Breugem/Foto24

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Johannesburg - People cannot tell the ANC that it is not allowed to criticise the judiciary because that would be suppression of the party, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday. 

"When you are critical of judges they [the judges] call a meeting with the president - it is fine, they must meet with the president," he told a SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union open school in Kempton Park. 

"But never suppress us and say 'don't talk about judges', because we know that that is suppression. They must meet the president, discuss the issue and we will state our issues... [like] why is judge so and so going to the United States to deliver a lecture? That means that judges are going to enter the political space. 

"Another goes to deliver a lecture on the [Oscar] Pistorius case."

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who convicted the Paralympian of culpable homicide said in a lecture to a Human Rights Law Association event in London last week that the South African government was disregarding the law in certain instances.  

“We are all supposed to respect the law, including the State. The State should be leading by example and when it doesn’t you really fear for the future," she said. 

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addressed journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday and hit back at recent attacks by the ruling party on the judiciary.

He rejected claims that judges are being influenced to reach specific verdicts, saying he wanted to share his concerns about the allegations with President Jacob Zuma.

"There have been suggestions that in certain cases... judges have been prompted to arrive at a predetermined result. This is a notion that we reject," Mogoeng said.

Zuma said on Thursday he would attend to Mogoeng's request after he returned from a trip abroad.

It was previously reported that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko told senior managers of the Independent Police Investigating Directorate that there were "interesting" elements in the judiciary who "meet with characters to produce certain judgments".

He did not mention any specific cases.

'We are not attacking the judiciary'

Mantashe, after an alliance summit last week, expressed concern about the judiciary interfering with the executive and the legislature, in what he termed “judicial overreach”. 

Mantashe said on Thursday that his cellphone had a number of messages from people asking why he attacked the judiciary. 

"I  made it my business to respond. No, we are not attacking the judiciary, we are debating their stance. 'What do you mean by overreach?' [they asked].

"Overreach means, for example, when the Speaker of Parliament throws people out of the House or not, then the judiciary says you can't throw them out - that is overreaching. 

"Because... Parliament, which is an independent arm of government has its own rules, it must exercise those rules."

With regards to the EFF being removed from the National Assembly, Mantashe said during a question and answer session that the party would continue to be removed if it caused more disruptions.

"Let them go to court, and if they come from court, throw them out and let them go to court [again], and if they come back throw them out. That's how you can restore order [in Parliament]."

Speaking to reporters later, Mantashe said he was not worried about the independence of the judiciary. 

"I think the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed and it is not under attack, but to interpret that to mean we must express no view on the judiciary... I think that is stretching it too far," he said. 

"My own view is that the meeting between the chief justice and the president will help clarify this."

''No judgment has been defied'

He said that while the ANC complained about some judgments, it implemented the rulings. 

"There is no judgment that has been defied by the ANC or by government," Mantashe said. 

"The difficult choice we had to make in the case of... [Sudanese President Omar] al-Bashir - that was a very heavy difficult choice to make. Whether we arrest a head of state and are in a state of war or there is a court order and you defied it, therefore you are in trouble.

"That was an exception because the situation and the choices that had to be made were difficult. But ordinarily, there is no court order that has been defied. "

Last month, government acted against an order granted by the High Court in Pretoria that Al-Bashir should be kept in the country.

Government officials allegedly allowed Al-Bashir to slip out of the country following an African Union summit despite the ruling. 

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to stand trial on charges, including genocide. As South Africa is a signatory to the court’s Rome Statute it is obliged to arrest and hand him over to the court.

Read more on:    anc  |  sactwu  |  mogoeng mogoeng  |  gwede mantashe  |  johannesburg  |  judiciary

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