South Africa: A Malema Prosecution Could Break the Barrier Between Politics and the Law


If Julius Malema is prosecuted over the Daily Maverick revelations about his alleged spending of funds looted from the VBS Mutual Bank, his lawyers are likely to turn the case into a political spectacle.

If the state's prosecuting authorities have Julius Malema arrested, and he is brought before the courts of law, his choice of legal representation may effect a toxic rupture between politics and law. As in most societies, there is an umbilical link between a society and its laws, in the sense that laws are ostensibly made by elected officials - lawmakers within legislatures - and they tend to represent the political-economic trends, preferences, expectations and objectives of dominant political forces.

For the most part, however, this link is concealed, so to speak, by the belief that the law stands apart and is necessarily unaffected by what happens in society on a day-to-day basis. When a member of society appears before the courts, justice is considered to be "blind" - the belief that justice does not see differences between people who appear in court. This is not as simple as it may seem.

The laws of any society have the ability to induce submission to a dominant political,...

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