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07 Mar 2003 07:02
Justice minister Penuell Maduna distanced himself on Thursday from an attack on the region’s judiciary by a senior ANC MPL and pledged to protect the rights of South African judges to express their views.
This follows criticism from the Official Opposition and the General Council of the Bar of KwaZulu-Natal MPL Dumisani Makhaye’s comments. On whether Maduna shared Makhaye’s views, ministry representative Paul Setsetse told Sapa: “We distance ourselves from what he said.
“Judges in South Africa are independent and are indeed at liberty to express their views on local, as well as, international issues.
“It is within their rights to express their dissatisfaction as the judiciary on the Zimbabwean situation,” Setsetse said.
“As the Ministry of Justice we will protect our judiciary to express their opinion and views.”
On whether Maduna shared the chief justices’ concerns about Zimbabwe, Setsetse said the situation in Zimbabwe was being handled at a diplomatic level “and we would like to leave it at that”.
“We would not want to comment outside that all inclusive approach embarked upon.”
Setsetse said Makhaye did not represent Maduna or the South African government.
“He was just speaking for himself.”
On Wednesday, Makhaye criticised the region’s chief justices for raising concerns about the arrest of Zimbabwean judge Benjamin Paradza.
The General Council of the Bar said it was disconcerting and regrettable that a member of the South African legislature had acted in this way.
“The tone of the statement suggests a contemptuous attitude towards those voices that express concern about the independence, perceived and real, of the judiciary,” council chairman Willem van der Linde said.
The suggestion that there were liberation struggle judges and others and that they would have different views on the judiciary’s independence was also disquieting.
Makhaye reportedly accused the judiciary of South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Tanzania, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia of “hiding behind their independence when they got into trouble”.
This was prompted by the issuing of a statement by the chief justices expressing regret that Judge Paradza had been arrested, detained and prosecuted before an impeachment procedure was followed.
the independence of the judiciary”.
He also accused elements of the South African judiciary “including some from the ranks of the struggle” of instinctively coming to the defence of elements of the Zimbabwean judiciary who thought they were above the law.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Sandy Kalyan (DA) called on the ANC to repudiate Makhaye whom she described as “this dangerous man”.
His attack was “ill-considered and dangerous”, she said. - Sapa
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