20 March 2017

South Africa: How Vulnerable Is South Africa's Judiciary?


The judiciary and the courts are particularly vulnerable to political interference. In the present milieu, they are the last line of defence when all other avenues have failed to deliver on constitutional guarantees. By PHEPHELAPHI DUBE.

As structural interdicts go - with layers of reporting back and supervision - the recently handed down order by the Constitutional Court in Black Sash Trust v Minister of Social Development and Others (Black Sash case) is far-reaching and extensive. Ordinarily such an interdict would elicit - not unwarranted - accusations of judicial overreach and a possible breach of the separation of powers doctrine, but these are not ordinary times.

Consider that on the same day in which the Constitutional Court was handing down the decision in the Black Sash case above, the High Court in Pretoria set aside the Minister of Police's appointment of Major-General Ntlemeza as National Head of the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (DCPI). This was set aside on the basis that the appointment, given previous adverse findings by courts against Major-General Ntlemeza, was irrational.

The Eastern Cape High Court sitting in Grahamstown, in Agri Eastern Cape and Others v MEC for the Department of Roads and Public Works and...

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