No surprise at Zuma ruling, lawyers say

2012-03-20 22:25

Bloemfontein - The legal fraternity was not surprised by a Supreme Court of Appeal decision in favour of the DA, law professor Tom Coetzee said on Tuesday.

"It was a hopeful sign to see that the decision was an unanimous one," said Coetzee, who is a law lecturer at the North West University.

The court decided in favour of the Democratic Alliance for access to records relating to the suspension of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2009.

The DA wants a review of the decision, by then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop charges against Zuma before he was elected president.

The DA had called on the national prosecuting authority to produce the record of proceedings that led to the decision.

The court held that Mpshe's decision on April 6 2009, to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma on corruption charges, would be subject to review.

Coetzee said the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) decision to dismiss the objection of the NDPP and Zuma to the standing of the DA in the review application was expected.

It was rejected with costs in the judgment.

Coetzee said it was expected that the high court’s decision in regard to the DA’s standing in the matter would not hold.

The SCA held that all political parties in Parliament must necessarily have an interest in ensuring that public power was exercised constitutionally and legally.


The SCA judgment found it was in the public interest and of direct concern to political parties participating in Parliament that an institution such as the NPA acted in accordance with constitutional and legal laws.

"It is of fundamental importance to our democracy that an institution such as the NPA, which is integral to the rule of law, acts in a manner consistent with constitutional prescripts and within its powers," the SCA said.

Coetzee said it was expected that the matter would go to the Constitutional Court.

If the Constitutional Court found the same as the SCA, the DA would be able to bring Mpshe's decision on review.

Coetzee said such a review would be launched in a high court, should the DA decide to file.

On Tuesday, the SCA found that the exercise of public power was regulated by the courts through judicial review.

SCA Judge Mahomed Navsa said in a constitutional state there were, by definition, legal limits to power and that the courts were bestowed with authority to determine the legality of various activities.

This included those of public authorities.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA would study the judgment and decide on a way forward.

"We wish to state that we still stand by advocate Mpshe's decision and remind all that these were preliminary issues with no direct impact on his decision not to prosecute," he said.

  • Cracker - 2012-03-20 22:48

    Quotation from the judgement and emphasis added here: "[31] Section 1(c) of the Constitution proclaims the supremacy of the Constitution and the concomitant supremacy of the rule of law. In fulfilling the constitutional duty of testing the exercise of public power against the Constitution, courts are protecting the very essence of a constitutional democracy. Put simply, it means that each of the arms of government and every citizen, institution or other recognised legal entity, are all bound by and equal before the law. Put differently, IT MEANS THAT NONE OF US IS ABOVE THE LAW. IT IS A CONCEPT THAT WE, AS A NATION, MUST CHERISH, NURTURE AND PROTECT. WE MUST BE INTENT ON ENSURING THAT IT IS INGRAINED IN THE NATIONAL PSYCHE. IT IS OUR BEST GUARANTEE AGAINST TYRANNY, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE."

  • Darra - 2012-03-21 05:15

    No surprise! Unanimous decision! Concluded and delivered in a little more than a month! ...and STILL the NPA wants to "decide on a way forward?", (Concourt appeal perhaps?) ... and STILL Maharaj addresses the media with a smirk and an arrogance that is now routine! Oh Mac, what would it take to embarrass you guys? This begs the question .... do not prosecutors, after an assessment of evidence to hand, decide whether to prosecute or not? Compatriots! WHITHER SA?

  • Maliganpa - 2012-03-21 10:55

    being at the top is often a tough job. The anc has learnt one lesson from the courts that a peaceful transition without overhauling the system which has been oppressive is not possible.If you ask the master to share with you his oppressive powers he will always retain some which will always make you feel weak. South africa being a two society nation consisting of the haves and the have nots will always be in a cold war. The cold war takes long to end than an ordinary war.Lets stop fooling ourselves and say we are living in a society which is transforming. Corruption is the main weapon which the haves will use to fight every form of transformation and portray our leaders as corrupt with our consent. Apartheid was corrupt and no one gets prosecuted for benefitting under the system. colonialism was also a corrupt system. We live each day of our lives with people who continue to benefit from the system with impunity. I am not condoning corruption in any way but that is the only system the west and our former white masters have known to get rich. Job reservations and price fixing is another form of corruption the whites used to enrich themselves.Bias media reporting. corruption is therefor every form of evil deed to enrich oneself. Lets define white corruption is otherwise every african leader will be corrupted by our courts. Lets come with a universal definition of the concept.Labour broking is corruption in my view. What is the DAs stance on labour slavery. L.Mazibuko speaks

      George - 2012-03-21 12:55

      I have to agree with you on this one. Thumbs up!

  • Maliganpa - 2012-03-21 11:00

    if corruption is left only to the courts to interpret we will all end up being corrupted. Statics have proven that even the american blacks are more likely to be sent to prison than their white counter parts for the same crime a white person committed. My conclusion is that the justice system is so hostile towards blacks than it is towards whites. How do we fix it...

      Cracker - 2012-03-21 11:26

      It was not a white court. Look at the extract above and say how what it says should be changed to accommodate your suggestions.

      Cracker - 2012-03-21 11:37

      Let it just be added that if we are not given the information being asked for then we would not know if the law was applied equally. And of course if we are given the information and have reason to believe the law was not applied as it should've been, we as co-inhabitants with the ANC and ALL other officials have the right demand that the situation be rectified. This country is not the sole possession of only some. It belongs to all.

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