EDITORIAL: We can’t suspend the rule of law

2017-05-18 13:02

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It has become customary for crowds to gather outside courthouses, hurling abuse and demanding that the accused be denied bail.

These angry protests usually dissipate once the aggrieved supporters of the victims have had their say.

This was not the case in the North West town of Coligny, where two white men stand accused of killing a black teenager they suspected of stealing a sunflower.

It was clear days before the court appearance that the granting of bail to Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte – who allegedly killed 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu – would spark a fierce backlash.

Coligny’s long-suffering black community had earlier reacted violently to news of Mosweu’s death.

In a country where power and privilege wear white faces and deprivation wears a black face, the granting of bail was bound to be seen through a racial lens.

As soon as Magistrate Makgaola Foso granted the men bail, the town exploded.

As did the commentary on radio talk shows and social media. Foso immediately became the target of a lynch mob, which accused him of being in cahoots with the “Boers”.

This is dangerous.

The law is clear that a decision has to be in the interest of justice.

The accused are entitled to presumption of innocence and can therefore not be unfairly detained.

The law is also clear on the circumstances under which bail can be denied.

In the Coligny case, the court was satisfied that the two met all the requirements for bail.

Foso also rejected the state’s submission that he should consider the impact on public disorder, saying the court could not “be held ransom [as it is its] fundamental function to dispense justice in line with the legal principle”.

While there is no doubt that the people of Coligny and most of rural South Africa have been failed by a state that doesn’t protect them from cruel and abusive employers, this is no reason to endorse the undermining of the rule of law.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
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 24.com 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.