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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The big news yesterday was that the ANC wishes to launch a brand new phone line, direct to the presidency, should anyone wish to complain. Seeing as it’s going to be toll-free, my first question was: “Who’s going to pay for this?” The short and simple answer is, that the taxpayer will be footing the bill. This bothered me for a while, until I realised that the only people likely to complain about an ANC government are the people that are actually paying tax.

Looking past the fact that this is the dumbest idea EVER, I wondered what calling this number would be like:

Please excuse the terrible quality. I don’t own a decent microphone… 😦 Like this video, I predict epic fail.

Disclaimer: Killing Time Until Time Kills Me is not affliated to any political party. The above video is a work of satire, and is not to be taken seriously.

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I like ol’ Barack. He’s a cool guy. But this official photo from the White House’s Photostream gives us a whole new meaning on the man:

International Policy Meetings: Serious Business.

International Policy Meetings: Serious Business.

Apparently it all has to do with his height. Obama’s a tall guy (You know what they say about tall guys… and black guys… BASTARD!), measuring in at over 6ft 2″.

This just goes to show, you never should have listened to your school teachers. If you hadn’t stopped riding your chair, you might actually have gotten somewhere.

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In all honesty, I’m growing a little tired of all the beef between Helen Zille and Jacob Zuma. This time it’s even gotten to the point where the ANCYL is threatening to ‘mobilise’ (this has to be their most-used word ever) and make the Western Cape ‘ungovernable.’

We’ve recently learned in Criminal Law that the State rests absolutely ZERO duty on you to report a crime should you see one happening. That’s right, should you find yourself walking along the street and see someone getting mugged, as a civilian, you have NO duty to do anything. You can, in fact, just stand and watch. Maybe get some popcorn and your camera if you’re a tourist. (Please note this extends only to civilians. Security guards, policemen, etc, you’re a different story.) There is, however, one exception to the Civilians-don’t-need-to-do-anything-rule: Treason. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but does threatening to make a government ‘ungovernable’ not count as treason? Somehow I doubt the Stellenbosch police station will take me seriously.

I decided that the best way to settle this was in the age-old internet tradition of a googlefight. Let’s see what the results yielded:

Helen Zille v Julius Malema:

Helen wins.

Helen wins.

So hopefully this result will shut the ANCYL up for a little while, as every time they make a statement, it either results in some form of the word ‘mobilise’ coupled with some form of ‘whites hate us, sniff sniff’. Please. Grow the fuck up. (@Julius – please note that this is just my opinion. There is truly no need to ‘mobilise’ against all the people of Stellenbosch. BTW, can I please call you Julius ‘mobilise’ Malema? Please? I’ll buy you cake).

Right, time to see how Helen does against the leader of our country, it’s time for Helen v Jacob.

And Jacob takes Helen, exactly 2-1

And Jacob takes Helen, exactly 2-1

Right Helen. So you have got quite a way to go. It would seem that Jacob is twice as strong as you are. But how does your organisation measure up?

DA vs ANC:

ANC fails

ANC fails

So what does this blogpost say about our political landscape over the next five years? Well, not much. But hopefully it took your mind off the fact that our politicians are nothing more than schoolchildren, who have nothing but empty threats about taking lunch money and who resort to petty name-calling. Seriously. This is meant to be a democracy!

Grow up.

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Whilst this may not be The Bob Loblaw Law Blog, I remain a Law student, and think it’s time for a post about the Law. This was sent to me recently, and makes for a fascinating read. It was the graduation speech given to law graduates from a certain University up north. The speaker is Judge Kees van Dijkhorst, who delivers a sobering look at the state of our judiciary. It’s a bit hefty, at 2000 words, but worth every syllable:

We study, teach and practise law, but do we have a theory about what we do? Do we have a sense of our own social purpose and that of the legal institutions in which we participate?

The law is the body of rules that society has laid down to regulate itself. Without laws there can be no society. It will burst apart at the seams and total anarchy will erupt. The law of the jungle will prevail.

The origins of law are to be found in the religious morality of society. In early communities there was no sharp distinction between religion, morals and the law, as at present. They were indistinguishably mixed together. Compare the Ten Commandments of which the first Thou shalt have none other Gods but me is religious; the fifth Honour thy father and thy mother is a moral precept; and the eight is a legal duty Thy shalt not steal. The severance of law from morality from religion came much later. Today it has gone so far that many people think that there is nothing in common between law and religion. Or that law knows no morality. There is no morally binding rule. Only legally binding rules have to be obeyed. And then only grudgingly.

Our law comes a long way. Its antecedents stretch back more than two millennia to Jerusalem, Athens and Rome. The legal thinking of the Romans was imbued with the logic of the Greeks and since the Roman emperors converted to Christianity in the fourth century, with a Judeo-Christian moral basis. And the line runs from there through Amsterdam with its commercial activity to Cape Town and into Southern Africa. And all along the way it was moulded by the prevalent ethical norms of the society in which it functioned and also by the exigencies of the times.

Since 1994 our norms are tested against and formed by the values of our Constitution: human dignity, equality, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism and non-sexism. The Constitution is supreme and the rule of law prevails. (Section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996)

But law in itself is merely words on paper. To be effective it has to be enforced. If laws are not enforced they may as well not exist. And anarchy will eventually triumph.

Judges, magistrates, advocates, attorneys, prosecutors, investigating officers, witnesses, court personnel, etc are all part of the vast system created to regulate society. Its purpose is the common well-being of society as a whole.

The whole system is dependent for its effectiveness on a number of core values: integrity, diligence, competence, discipline, proper administration, a social commitment, respect.

Integrity

A lawyer is a person of integrity. There are no degrees of integrity. Integrity is absolute.

Integrity must pervade the whole process of the law. From the receipt of the complaint to the ultimate decision on guilt or innocence is reached.

Integrity does not only encompass honesty in the sense of not stealing money. It includes not stealing the employer’s time (for which you are paid) by starting late and leaving early.

Integrity means you do the job well for which you are paid, to the best of your ability.

Integrity means that you are incorruptable. This not only means that you cannot be swayed from the path of duty by favours, monetary or otherwise, but also not by fear of political or other intimidation.Or by racial or other prejudices.

Integrity means that you do not use the rules of court to frustrate the course of justice.

Diligence

This means you put heart and soul into the task at hand.

Competence

Means you are qualified for the task.

Discipline

Means rules must be complied with and must be enforced.

Proper administration

Means that things are done in an orderly functional manner.

Social commitment

Means that witnesses willingly co-operate in the judicial process out of a sense of duty towards society. And that counsel and attorneys are not money making machines, but put their commitment to a better society first.

Respect

Means that the advocate, attorney, prosecutor and investigating officer not only are respectful towards the bench, but also towards each other and in particular towards the witnesses.

Does our justice system pass the test?

No. The red lights are flickering.

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority, after 1994 a political appointee, was dismissed for prosecuting the Commissioner of Police another political appointee, on charges of corruption.

The acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority on 6 April 2009 abandoned the prosecution on 16 charges of a political figure who, a court found, was in a corrupt relationship with and took bribes from Shabir Shaik. The NPA worked on the case for 8 years. There are 218 witnesses. (Beeld 7/4/09 p16) It admits that it has a good case. The alleged reason for the abandonment is that Mr Bulelani Nguqa (then unconnected to the NPA) discussed the timing of the charge with Mr Leonard McCarthy (Head of the Scorpions). It had noting to do with the merits of the case. It is unexplained why the NPA did not leave it to the court to decide whether these conversations vitiated the judicial process. This action by the NPA has shredded whatever image of independence and impartiality it had.

The judge president of the Cape High Court accepted retainers from a commercial entity and then decided whether that entity would be allowed to sue another judge of that division. The Judicial Services Commission exonerated him.

The acceptance of retainers was highly irregular. Whether he had the oral permission of a fortuitously deceased minister is irrelevant. In any event standard practice was to grant permission officially and in writing. The decision to decide the question whether leave to sue should be given was irregular. The decision by the JSC is inexplicable.

That other judge was allegedly involved with a lady and arrested in India and made headlines.

That same judge president stands accused of having attempted in September 2008 to influence the decision of the Constitutional Court in the matter of the attachment of documents of Mr Jacob Zuma. This issue is still sub judice. But the matter has deteriorated into a judicial circus. The CC as a whole laid a charge against the judge president with the Judicial Services Commission. It thereby disqualified itself from sitting in any further proceedings in the matter.Particulars of the charge were given to the press. The JP laid a charge with the JSC against the whole CC because of the press statement. The JP approached the South Gauteng High Court alleging that his constitutional rights of dignity and equality had been breached by the press statement and that the charge must be set aside. By a majority of 3 to 2 the high Court found that his constitutional rights had been breached but it unanimously found that that did not affect the validity of the charge. The full CC appealed to the Court of Appeal against the finding of the 3. The Court of Appeal constituted a bench of 9. The JP moved that the presiding judge recuse himself because of bias, but later dropped the application. The Court of Appeal held that no rights of the JP had been breached by the press statement.. The enquiry by the JSC must proceed.

The JP required that the enquiry be held in camera. The JSC acceded. This caused a furore and an urgent application by the press to the High Court. It was ordered that the matter be open to the public.

The JP wrote a letter to the JSC requiring the members to recuse themselves on the ground of bias. This was refused. When the hearing started the JP did not attend. It was alleged he had flu. His counsel foreshadowed an application for an interdict against the continuation of the proceedings as the JP wanted to attack the refusal by the JSC to recuse itself. The matter had to be postponed. When the matter resumed on 4 April the JP had a new doctor, a new illness and a new counsel.(Brian Pincus SC) The matter had to be postponed again. On 7 April when the inquiry resumed the JP was again absent and was represented by a further new counsel who again requested a postponement, threatening to withdraw if it was not granted. The postponement was refused. Counsel withdrew. Evidence was led. The matter is still pending. Whatever the outcome, the general public can but take a dim view of these judicial antics.

That same judge president is being sued by a former acting judge for defamation. He allegedly remarked unfavourably on the acting judge’s ability to write judgments.

A judge of the Pretoria High Court smashes his Jaguar into a brick wall. He is accused of drunken driving. The matter is still sub judice after many months and numerous appearances.

To quote Hamlet: All is not well in the House of Denmark.

If this is the scenario when our highest judges are personally involved, what is to be expected in the lower courts?

Our criminal cases run much longer than they used to. Time costs money. Accused are in this way penalised even when not guilty. The reasons for the delays are numerous. I do not have the time to deal with them.

Allow me to refer to some examples:

· In October 2005 a woman was gang raped in Tembisa. The case against her 8 assailants started in December 2005.Since then it has been postponed numerous times and once was struck off the roll. On 2 March 2009 it was postponed to 27 July 2009 as the roll was full. (Beeld 3/3/09 p6 )

· After about 9 years of trial (more off than on) of the Boeremag case 2 accused admit the facts alleged against them. Had our system provided for the accused to state their case first (the European inquisitory system) all this time would not have been wasted (at least in respect of those two).

· On top of the inordinate delays when cases do come to court, there is the disturbing fact that only a small fraction of charges laid make it to court. In the year 2007/8 according to Gauteng police statistics only 8% of the 47 216 charges laid of violence against women and children reached the courts. Of the 48 865 charges laid of contact crimes only 26% reached the courts and of crimes against property only 11% of 154 647charges laid. This means that police investigation and preparation of cases is wholly ineffective. (Beeld 4/3/09, p9 ).

The criminal justice system is in dire straits.

As regards civil litigation, it is so costly that ordinary folk cannot afford the

luxury of a court case.

Our procedure is cumbersome with little leeway for the judge to speed up matters.

There is a lack of confidence in the competence of our High Courts in civil matters exacerbated by a waiting time of two years on the trial roll.. This leads to an increase in referral of matters to arbitration, often even when the parties are already in the portals of court. This is a sad reflection on our judicial system. The remedy is to bring back the confidence in the judiciary by appointing judges from the best of our senior counsel, on the basis of merit. Experience breeds confidence and confidence and experience leads to quick and correct decisions.

To sum up: Neither the criminal nor the civil justice system is properly functional. At the root of the situation is a lack of competence, diligence, and sometimes integrity.

Do I by painting this bleak picture attempt to dissuade you, graduandi, from the practice of the law? On the contrary, our country needs young practitioners. People like yourselves with integrity, honesty, diligence and starry eyes eager to tackle the future. The law is a hard taskmaster but its practice is highly rewarding, not only financially, but, more important, intellectually. There is never a dull moment. And on top of it all you will each make an important contribution to the betterment of our society.

In the words of Longfellow (slightly adapted): Come along grow old like me. The best is yet to be!


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I have cast my vote. Done and dusted. All in all the whole process was rather pain-free… Yes, there was a queue, but I had my iPod, and for some reason, listening to Rage Against the Machine seemed Right in the circumstances. You know, angry political music. My song of choice, Township Rebellion. Some of the lyrics seemed to jump out at me, as I stood in the line, thinking about the state of our country… I have made bold what I think spoke to me…

Rebel, rebel and yell
Cause our people still dwell in hell
Locked in a cell
Yes, the structures a cell
Mad is the story I tell
How long can we wait?
Come on, seein what’s at stake
Action for reaction
If your minds in a somewhat complacent state
Get a check up
This is a stick up
Our freedom or your life
Lord, I wish I could be peacful
But there can be no sequel

Now freedom must be fundamental
In johannesburg or south central
On the mic, cause someone should tell em
To kick in the township rebellion

Yeah, what about that sucker?

Yeah, so you thought you could get with the hardlines
That fill your mind
Thoughts, battles fought
And lessons taught

Yes I’ll display the fitness
And flip like a gymnast
Raise my fist and resist
Asleep, though we stand in the midst
Of the war
Gotta get mine
Gotta get more
Keepin the mic warm against the norm
Cause what does it offer me?
I think often it’s nothin but a coffin

Gotta get wreck
Till our necks never swing on a rope
From here to the cape of no hope

Now freedom must be fundamental
In Johannesburg or south central
On the mic, cause someone should tell em
To kick in the township rebellion

Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war, fuck the norm (4 times)

(guitar solo)

Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war, fuck the norm (4 times)

What’s it gonna take?
Euuurrrggghhhhh!

Shackle their minds when they’re bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
Shackle their minds when they’re left on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
Shackled our minds when were bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
Shackled our minds when were left on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost, lost, lost!

Shackle your minds and you’re left on the cross!
When ignorance reigns, life is lost!
Just shackle your minds when you’re bent on the cross!
When ignorance reigns, life is lost, lost!

Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war, fuck the norm

Now whilst not 100% applicable to our current politics, I think there is definitely something that can be said here. And standing in line, this seemed very appropiate.

Go vote. It’s the right thing to do.

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That’s right. We are less than 24 hours away from the polling stations opening for what is without a doubt something very exciting: Democracy in Action. Please vote. Please. I am not telling you who to vote for, nor who I am voting for, but please make an informed decision.

Friday’s Mail & Guardian ran an excellent guide to all the major parties, with summaries and criticism on policy considerations, from a very neutral perspective. The paper can be viewed here, and the Election Guide can be found on page 21. Please read it and make an informed vote. In fact, I recommend you buy the paper itself. It’s got a brilliant profile of the feelings among South African voters. Please don’t walk into that voting booth uniformed. That’s nothing short of irresponsible.

If you’ve forgotten how to vote, all you need to do is make the following shape, next to the party you think will lead this country the best. You’ll even get a free coffee.

Ideally, this is the picture you should draw next to the party you want to vote for

Ideally, this is the picture you should draw next to the party you want to vote for

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Right, so it’s been a while (Monday/Tuesday?) since I last spoke to you, this has been mostly due to the fact that last night I wrote Private Law, which, despite the rumours and reputation, actually wasn’t all that bad. What is beginning to grate my carrot is the frantic last minute campaigning happening EVERYWHERE. It’s beginning to piss me off.

What started out as the odd politically-influenced friend on facebook changing his status to support a political party, has snowballed into something quite disasterous. Whereas politics, especially amongst my friends (those of the 19 – 23 year old age group), has never really been a talking point, everyone has suddenly become an expert.

What’s pissing me off is people asking who I’m voting for. It’s none of your damn business. There is a good reason that the ballots are secret. I have no desire to tell you who I plan on voting for. And no, throwing a rock concert, giving me biltong, and handing me a bunny lick (how very Shofar), will not ‘buy’ my vote.

I will not vote for Biltong.

I will not vote for Biltong.

The entire campaign trail has been nothing other than a high school sports match. It is nothing more than party leaders dancing, and singing, drumming up support by saying “We’re the best!,” and “Look at them, looked how they messed up! At least we’re not like that. Please explain to me how this depicts your manifesto, and what you plan to do for the country. It’s childish. Now stop it.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I still have a slight belief in my country, as well as the gears of democracy, I would have seriously considered not voting. But don’t do that. Please vote. Just grit your teeth, put the blinkers on and vote based on what you feel. Your vote is your vote. It’s no-ones duty to tell you who to vote for. Please don’t be a sheep.

PS> Sincere apologies for the lack of humour in this post. I’m going to put it down to lack of sleep.

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