Attacks threaten judiciary - Ngcobo

2010-11-13 19:35

Johannesburg - Recent attacks on the justice system in the media are a threat to public confidence and pose a risk to judicial independence, Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo said on Saturday.

"On several occasions in recent months the judiciary has been the subject of unbridled and unwarranted attacks in the media." Ngcobo said in a speech prepared for the Law Society AGM in Rustenburg.

"The problem with such attacks, whether from political parties, academics or political commentators, is that they imperil confidence in the courts and therefore pose a risk to judicial independence," he said.

"An independent judiciary is particularly important in South Africa as we remain in the early stages of our constitutional democracy."

Ngcobo said the country was a nation in transition, from a society characterised by racial injustice, inequality and a disregard for fundamental freedoms - to one based on social justice, equality, human dignity and a respect for fundamental human rights and freedom.

Criticism welcome

He said the courts were the ultimate guardians of these values and many others in the constitution.

The role of the justice system was meaningless without the independence necessary to impartially resolve disputes, without any interference or the perception thereof from any source, whether it be powerful interest groups or other branches of government, he said.

"If the courts are to effectively perform this crucial role, it is essential not only that they are actually independent, but that they are also perceived to be independent."

Ngcobo said criticism of the justice system was welcome, as long as it focused on the reasons for court decisions or unacceptable ethical conduct by judges.

He said it was appropriate and necessary that the decision of judges be scrutinised.

"At the same time, the judicial system has a built in mechanism for the correction of errors - the opportunity to appeal."

"Constructive criticism is crucial in the development of the law... nevertheless, it should be directed at the judge's analysis rather than the judge's person," he said.

Ngcobo said that nobody, particularly public officials, should question the necessity of respecting and obeying a judgement passed, no matter how strong their disagreement.

If the country was to be successfully transformed, it would need the trust of the public, and more importantly, its support for the principle of judicial independence, he said.

  • Valis - 2010-11-13 20:11

    No, wrong. What really poses a threat to the judiciary's independence is the ANC's policy of cadre deployment. But then it's always easier to blame everyone else except yourself. And what attacks is he talking about? The fact that the media dares to point out their incompetence and corruption? Good grief.

  • Maleo - 2010-11-13 20:13

    "from a society characterised by racial injustice" to a society currently again characterised by racial injustice -- that is the great problem!

  • Valis - 2010-11-13 20:14

    Also, notice under "Related Links" the story of how this corrupt crony got himself an eighteen million rand house at taxpayers expense. I suppose the media is to blame for that as well?

  • alfred - 2010-11-13 20:36

    Why cant the ANC just do what they want to do and leave the drama out of the whole thing. They have the numbers to do it so why are they going through this charade of pretending that this is a choice we have and we need convincing. Sadly the majority of my fellow countrymen are too dumb to know they're being screwed yet again by another government.

  • Mart - 2010-11-14 05:20

    'early stages of our constitutional democracy' se voet. Just do it and do it right. Stop making excuses for your own inadequacies, be more assertive and stop pretending that you are beyond the influence of a particular political party.....get real, the ordinary people of this country pay your salary and expect justice with no favour in return !!!!

      Geo Farmer - 2010-11-14 06:26

      Well said Mart!!! Its time that these FATCAT ANC cadres take their dirty snouts out of the gravy trough and stop talking and start doing!!!

  • Bootjie - 2011-03-25 08:43

    What a joke!! The judiciary deserves no respect whatsoever and their actions need to be questioned in the Public domain until they get their act together!! It's absolutely shocking that they don't have a code of conduct; shouldn't a Code of conduct have been drafted even before the the judiciary started operating? It's no wonder they now do as they like!! As if the right to appeal is a cure all for the fraudulent judgments emanating from the courts. For one thing it takes for ever for an appellant to get the judge in question to supply written reasons (which itself is an anomaly; how can you reach a decision i.e. order/judgment and not have reasons as to how you arrived at the judgment on the same day???) Besides it costs money to take a matter for appeal, money which most people can ill-afford, so wouldn't it just be better if they are not compelled to if the initial judge does not misconduct him/herself and gives the correct judgment from the outset?

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