Ramaphosa pays tribute to SS Mendi troops

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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  • It's been 104 years since the sinking of the SS Mendi.
  • It remains one of the worst marine disasters in the history of South Africa.
  • In President Cyril Ramaphosa's weekly newsletter he took the opportunity to lambast those who have attacked members of the judiciary.
  • It comes after former president Jacob Zuma's decision to not appear at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture this week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa launched a scathing attack on those who have attacked members of the judiciary. In his weekly newsletter he took the opportunity to lambast those who have undermined the judiciary.

"Of particular concern are recent utterances directed at the judiciary, in which some judges are accused, without any evidence, of pursuing interests other than the cause of justice. Judges have been accused of political agendas and some have even been accused of accepting bribes. Such claims are deeply disturbing. Anyone who has evidence of any wrongdoing by any judge should make use of the avenues provided in our Constitution and in our law to ensure that appropriate action is taken," Ramaphosa said.

It comes after former president Jacob Zuma's decision to not appear at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture this week - he made damning allegations that there were judges in South Africa on the payroll of Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa stated the claims that had been made against the judiciary were disturbing.

"Without the presentation of evidence to support these claims, and unless referred to the relevant authorities, all that such allegations do is to undermine the judiciary and the important function that it performs in our democracy," he said.

FULL LETTER | Cyril Ramaphosa | Attacks on the judiciary shake the foundations of our constitutional democracy

He also paid tribute to soldiers who died on the SS Mendi in 1917. Ramaphosa commemorated Armed Forces Day at the Castle in Cape Town on Sunday.

Ramaphosa said: "On Armed Forces Day, we remember the men and women who have lost their lives in the service of our nation. We are also reminded on this day of the responsibility that the defence force has to protect our democracy."

He said the defence force is the only lawful military force in the country.

"The responsibility to defend our democracy and uphold our Constitution rests with each one of us. Our democratic Constitution is the product of years of sacrifice and struggle. Many South Africans endured great pain and hardship, and many lost their lives, so that we could live in a democracy where all may enjoy equal rights," he said.

It's been 104 years since the sinking of the SS Mendi. It remains one of the worst marine disasters in the history of South Africa - 616 South African soldiers and 30 British crew members died when the vessel sank during World War I.

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