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Jacob Zuma defends the judiciary, or does he?

President of the ANC Jacob Zuma, when addressing students at University of Johannesburg, defended the right of free speech, indicating that the judiciary is not beyond reproach. Zuma is right that we must, as responsible citizens, hold our judicial system accountable.

He said, “It can’t be said you can’t criticise the judiciary. That is what is being said in South Africa. That is not right … But, the criticism should be fair and should be informed. That is very important … We must not jump to conclusions that the judiciary is under attack.”

But Zuma is misguided in saying that the ANC is under a flurry of attacks for its criticism of the judiciary. None of those taking a stand against the ANC are attempting to suppress the rights of its members to express their concerns about the judiciary. What they are confronting is a blatant assault on the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and attempts to intimidate the judiciary in making pronouncements that are favourable to him.

He went on to say, “Mantashe will never undermine these institutions,” in spite of the secretary general of the ANC calling the judiciary, “counter-revolutionaries.” It is unacceptable that the president of the ANC is seen to be protecting those who have vilified the judiciary under the false pretext of defending their independence and integrity.

Sasco said of the Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke after the constitutional court ruled against Zuma: “We were, however, not surprised at the ruling because actions of Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, when he was drunk at his birthday party, had clearly expressed his utter hatred for the president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma. In our view a judge doesn’t cease to be a judge because he is drunk; instead he becomes a drunk judge who, like all other drunkards, starts expressing his honest views.”

Kenny Motshegoa, the idiotic president of Cosas, joined Sasco with insults in saying constitutional court judges were “drunk with opportunism” and engaged in “evil and dangerous games”.

Zuma should undermine the intelligence of the general public who are disgusted by the relentless assault on the judiciary that they are jumping to conclusions to this fact. The idiotic statements above are not objective criticism, which he demands and defends, but unmasked attacks on the judiciary.

“I believe in a free and independent judiciary that should operate without fear or favour,” he said. How does Jacob Zuma reconcile his statement with what the Gauteng Secretary of the Young Communist League, Alex Mashilo said: “We believe the court will be sober … No sober judge will be ruling in favour of the prosecution … we will mobilise all our resources to make sure the case comes to an end.”

The deputy president of the ANC Kgalema Motlanthe recently said: “I would always be wary of doing that (attacking the judge) from a position of ignorance. But ordinary people don’t have access to that kind of information (submissions by the state claiming Zuma’s pre-trial litigation was meant to delay his trial).”

Zuma’s statements above serve to contradict publicly his deputy that there is a deliberate attack by his ardent supporters on the judiciary. Clearly it is not expected of a leader of the ANC to be contradicting a fellow senior leader in the movement.

Motlanthe was subsequently lashed out at by the ANCYL after he defended the independence of the judiciary: “A political case in our understanding can only require a political solution and not some highly questionable criminal justice system, which has persecuted our president for more than seven years. So (Motlanthe) going around affirming the independence of the criminal justice system on the case of the ANC president is worrisome.”

We expect of the leadership of the ANC to be speaking in a unified voice against the intimidation and attack on the independence and integrity of the judiciary. We expect the leadership of the ANC to be strongly condemning these thoughtless and vicious public statements against the judiciary by members of the ANC and its alliance partners, which appear to be made with consistent regularity.

It is these divisions that have mired the ANC and the country that Jacob Zuma as president of the ruling party be seen to be in charge and decisive in reigning in on miscreants within his party. It is a demonstration of resolute and decisive leadership in this instance that would inform those who remain skeptical about him to observe him favourably.



  1. Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos 10 September 2008

    […]”a judge doesn’t cease to be a judge because he is drunk; instead he becomes a drunk judge who, like all other drunkards, starts expressing his honest views.”

    Ditto ditto ditto…

    “Respect is earned” blah blah…I’ve heard this poppycock (several times) when people scrutinise JZ’s past behaviour… Now it’s a judge, when leaders of political parties issue the same statements about the Judge/s…whooo! “You’re attacking judiciary”, “you’re undermining legal institution” and so forth.

    This twaddle should very soon stop…someone who’s drunk uttering indecent statements about a political movement, will be a drunkard for ever and s/he should know that s/he has ceased to be an honoured judge in our communities.

  2. Canada Canada 10 September 2008

    Sentletse, ngwaneso as an ex-AZASO, Sasco member I am deeply disappointed at the level and maturity of the current student politics.

    Infact I expected more from SASCO than the moribound ANCYL, they are after all supposed to be higher education students and future leaders in their various chosen field of study.

    Lets leave the politics of Mbeki and Zuma aside, both of whom have never been my cup of tea anyway, I do not recall for a moment during the struggle people chanting about killing for Mandela or any other leader for that matter.

    Nevertheless South Africa is not Zimbabwe, the final abiter will be the people in the coming poll.

  3. Billy Goldfinger Billy Goldfinger 10 September 2008

    You are boring and predictable with your JZ witchhunt. How about an article about your loverboy bumchum Thabo, his equally mathemathics semi literate former biker/hells angel Trevor and the armsdeal/the governments traditional healer… Manto Beetroot. I have a good mind handing JZ his machine gun his been screaming for!!!!

  4. George Annandale George Annandale 10 September 2008

    His words were not cold before COSATU and ANCYL stood up, and publicly threatened all South Africans that disagree with their views.

    The Cabal (Zuma, Mantashe, Vavi, Nzimandi, Malema) realise resistance to the idea of Zuma is building in moderate circles. They now need to entrench the idea within the ANC alliance that the Cabal is in charge.

    Will someone stand up against them or will we just see more statements explaining this statement, then there will be retractions…,corrections…, stabbings of comrades…, more statements…, retractions of corrections…, more stabbings of comrades…,declarations of unity…, apologies…, corrections of retractions, retraction of apologies…,denial of statement…

    Which ANC will lead us next year

  5. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 10 September 2008

    It was funny watching Zuma on TV making that speech – licking his lips and sweating.

    Obviously he was forced into it – probably in reaction to Zapiro’s cartoon.

    Who of you still believe Zuma writes his own speeches?

  6. Percentage Percentage 10 September 2008

    Good article Sentletse. Surely the ANC is speaking with so many voices and contradict itself. The ANC president is playing politics here when he defends the judiciary verbally and by deeds. He must rebuke all in the ANC who swears at Judges. Why dont he rebuke them? he must just answer that question. The SG of ANC just said judges are counter-revolutionaries, what does he say?

  7. Madoda Madoda 10 September 2008

    Why is it violating the independence of the judiciary when Gwede calls the judiciary counter revolutionary but OK for the constitutional court judges to accuse a judge president publicly based on hearsay evidence?

    Should justice not only begin when the trial starts but from investigation and through to prosecution and trial. Why is it not violating the justice system when the NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka told select journalists that there is a prima facie evidence against Zuma but he would not prosecute? Was Ngcuka not violating justice by not charging Zuma and took away the trial judge’s role to weigh the strength of the evidence and a right to a speedy trial?

    I believe that the NPA under Ngcuka violated justice in this instance. Future, NPA leaders now seem to have much more than enough “prima facie” evidence. However, given the time taken and the right to have a speedily trial and presumption of innocense, I think Zuma has already paid the price for whatever sentence should he be found guilty. This is a pre-trial mis-trail.

    This is my fair critisicm of the justice system. It not based on whether I like Zuma or not. It is out of fear that I would not like it to be personally investigated for more that 10 years. Whilst rumours are peddled publicly that I am guilty. When I am ready to go to trial to clear my name I am not offered a speedily trial. Then when I am ready to get a promotion at work, I am charged with additional charges that were not there 10 years ago. Where is justice and fairness in that. Zuma or not Zuma justice must not be violated by the investigation and prosecution authorities from the beginning. Zapiro did not depict these violations of the justice system in the past 10 years. If he is a die hard defender of the justice system, why the thunderous silence?

  8. Sipho Sipho 10 September 2008

    Hatred, hatred and more hatred but very little substance to engage I’m afraid.You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.Please when you get to a public platform, try to make your argument coherent and respectable. Broer you’re writing from the heart as opposed to from your head, which is inappropriate for this platform. Are you sure you understood what Zuma said in that platform?

  9. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 10 September 2008

    Great article. The ANC has become a multi-headed beast like a siren of yore, with each head trying to be more viscous than the next.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Zuma would seemingly contradict the open attacks of his deputies on the judiciary in public. It’s part of the game plan to try and convince us that Zuma is actually the good guy being prosecuted unfairly. Well, I think Zuma is underestimating the public. We’re not all idiots like Malema.

  10. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 10 September 2008


    How can it be hearsay evidence when it is the judges themselves Hlope spoke to, not someone else. Hearsay is when you HEAR it from a third party!

    Ngcuka resigned and is no longer relevant, and there is NO evidence against Vusi Pikoli.

    And the delay in Zuma’s trial date was caused by Zuma – by no-one else.

    If the NPA was Mbeki’s tool – why did they go for Selebi as well as for Zuma?

  11. Percentage Percentage 11 September 2008

    Madoda and sipho,

    I totally disagree with you. The fact is Zuma must rebuke all who attack the judiaciry and call it names like counter-revolutionaries, agents of the darkness, drunkards, and so forth. he must be seen to defend this institutions of democracy.

    How can the hlophe issue be hearsay when someone confronts two judges of the courts. The judges stood up and said Hlophe approached us to favaour JZ in our judgement. What is wrong with that?

    Zuma must speak like a leader, he must be at the forefront to defend the institutions of democracy.

  12. Madoda Madoda 11 September 2008


    It is hearsay because Zuma only spoke with 2 out of all the judges that complained against him. The original two did initially did not want to lay charges. Thus, more than 7 judges are accusing Hlophe based on hearsay evidence and gossip. Its all statements and no concrete evidence of tapes, videos, e-mails or any recorded minutes.

    The nature of the evidence is only “he said and I said”. Ultimately judgements can only be made based on whose side of the story anyone believes. The key ‘link’ that the judges allege Hlophe provided to betray his intention to bat for Zuma was that he asked: “Which Nkabide are you from? We are relying on you to make a right decision on the privilige issue.”

    How is relying on the decision made by judges an attack on the independence of the judiciary? This statement to me is affirming the independence of the judiciary. Unless you do not like Hlophe, you would read evil intentions to his statements.

    Ngcuka might be gone but because of him, the matter has persisted unresolved for ten years since the arms deal rumours surfaced. Seldom do legitimate scandals make headlines for more than 10 years in other countries (Watergate, UK Blair’s arms deal with the Saudi etc). Had Ngcuka done his job and charged Zuma there and then and not deprived the trial court of its role to weigh in on the stregth of the evidence, the Zuma matter would have long been resolved. Vusi and others just picked up from where Ngcuka left off. Vusi also charged him in 2005 but wanted the trial to be postponed to coincide with the elections. The trial judge threw the case out of court and told us the NPA case limped from one disaster to the next. Zuma was ready also in 2005. You therefore cannot blame Zuma solely for the delays and him exercising his rights.

    I do not know about you but I also personally would not want to be tried after 2 previous attempts when I was ready and the people accusing me were not ready. Especially, if I have obtained the biggest career promotion of my life. All through time my integrity, “brand”, and public image is being massacred by the self-appointed and part-time defenders of the judiciary.

    Defenders of the judiciary system must also speak like leaders and lead by example in defending the system throughout the process. To be selective and ignore other injustices during investigations and prosecution is to be insincere and politicising the issue of the independence of the judiciary. How different is Zapiro by this omission to Malema and co. No difference to me except that Malema & co want Zuma to be the president of RSA.

  13. Sentletse Diakanyo Sentletse Diakanyo Post author | 11 September 2008

    MADODA, there had been allegations made against Hlophe, and it is the JSC’s duty to hear the matter and come to a determination based on arguments from both sides. Those judges alleged to have been approached by Hlophe did not make allegations based on hearsay.

    The same applies to allegations of conspiracies; those making allegations need to be given the opportunity to prove their allegations.

  14. Madoda Madoda 11 September 2008

    Correction: I meant to say Hlophe spoke to two judges.

  15. Madoda Madoda 11 September 2008


    My point exactly, only 2 judges spoke with Hlophe directly. Therefore what are the grounds for the remaining judges to lay complaints if their complaints are not based on what they heard from the other two (Hearsay)? If Sentletse you can be critical on Sunday Times publishing hearsay and uncorroborated stories about Transnet selling properties and Mbeki receiving R30m bribes, surely you can understand that it is possible for rumours to gain currency without evidence and in the process damage people’s reputations and limit their chosen careers.

    The JSC will ultimately rely on the content of conversations Hlophe had with the other two judges. Truth can only be deduced from those conversations. There is no proverbial “smoking gun” from the submissions made by the Judges and Hlophe to the JSC that unequivocally proves that Hlophe told Ngcobo and Nkabinde that he wanted them to find in favour of Zuma.

    So, my question still remains unanswered: Is it not violating the justice system if more than 7 of the constitutional court judges file a complaint about a judge president, based solely on private conversations Hlophe had with only 2 judges that can never be corroborated by any other non verbal evidence?

    If our highest court in the land proceeds with complaints based on gossip against another judge and assail his integrity, I see danger in that. I, the little guy Madoda, would never get any justice from the justice system should anyone start a malicious rumour about me. To me criticism of an injustice is how one can defend the justice system as a whole.

  16. Xolani Xolani 11 September 2008

    To the Author:
    Kindly clarify the following:”Kenny Motshegoa, the idiotic president of Cosas, joined with insults Sasco and said constitutional court judges were “drunk with opportunism” and engaged in “evil and dangerous games”.
    The grammatical error makes it difficult to understand what you are saying. Particularly on this part “.. joined with insults TO Sasco or FROM Sasco and said. . “ What I want to know is whether Sasco was being lamented or if Sasco was part of the lament aimed at insulting the constitutional court judges?
    Substantiate and elaborate your position and explain the reasons as to why you take such a position.
    Thanking you in advance.

  17. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 12 September 2008


    The person the trial judge got off the hook by striking the case off the role was HIMSELF, the judge. He would not be able to hear the trial again! ALL the black judges tried to avoid hearing the Zuma cases. The rape trial was heard by a white judge because two black judges excused themselves on vested interest charges first.

    What kind of society terrorises its own judges?

  18. Lebohang Lebohang 13 September 2008

    Ysrsteday’s judgement goes in the face of the likes of Pius Langa, Tutu (shamefully), Asmal, Chaskalson, Bizos and how can I forget you Sentletse, the notorious Zapiro and local media bunch. Your academic and spiritual idol Mbeki is right in middle of all this. I would advise you to balance your extensive reading with deeper and well guided analysis.

    I have never in my life seen a leader anywhere in the world who is implacated in all sorts of controversy and failures in the country he is supposed to leading , well besides Mugabe ofcourse wo so happen to be his close confidant. Electricity crisis, SABC board, Arm’s deal, Pikoli saga, Selebi, weak Aids strategy or lack of and many more are his all aspects of his legasy in south africa. I fail to understand how such a person fits in your definition of a visionary leader.

  19. Sentletse Diakanyo Sentletse Diakanyo Post author | 13 September 2008

    I disagree with a lot of what Judge Nicholson said. He is making wild assumptions based certain events to come to a conclusion that there is a political conspiracy against JZ.

  20. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 14 September 2008


    The Judge effectively said “bullshit, If there are conspirators give them names – stop dropping dark hints”. Well – now they have names: Mbeki, Ncguka and both Ministers of Justice.

  21. Lebohang Lebohang 14 September 2008

    So much from the person who has been advocating and supporting the facts before judges and mandate provided the judges by law.You really are now chamelioning around issues you claimed to believe in Sentletse.

    One thing seems to elude your reasoning and that is keep things basic and logical.People have destroyed their reputations over the years trying to ensure the fulfillment of this “conspiracy” including some respected people like Tutu and Cader Asmal to mention a few and what is a lesson out of this is that ordinary people could make out the glaring disgusting pattern from the begining. Bulelani starting the whole thing and the victim being replaced by his wife a couple of years down the line with Mbeki remaining the common theme throughout this issue. What is sad is that some people entrusted by the law and constitution played along in this saga. Our opposition with deep hatred and obsession with the ANC join in as well. We have never heard any of them calling for the upholding of the principle of “Innocent until proven guilty”, instead they all ganged up with media to push for this unfortunate crusade to continue. Helen interestingly still suggests that Zume should pull out of next year’s polls despite the ruling.

    And you Sentletse disagrees with the ruinlg…..well there many coming verdicts my friend you are going to have to continue to disgree with. I told you before to start searching for someone to worship. Sad because you seem to have had your education well paid for.

  22. Sentletse Diakanyo Sentletse Diakanyo Post author | 15 September 2008

    LEBOHANG, I’m not sure whether your comments are based on what you read from media reports, or whether you actually took time to study the judgment. If you had studied the judgment without being selective, you’d realise that the judge makes a lot of contradicting inferences and assertions. But it is to be expected from loyal Zuma supporters that they would interpret the judgment as validation of their mindless allegations of conspiracy against their leader.

  23. Lebo Lebo 15 September 2008

    The only positive thing from this is that you are not in the sinking ship Sentletse. But I would think that those inside realise that the end of the road is in sight. Funny how this coincides with Mbeki’s Zim deal that has guaranteed Mugabe indemnity from prosecution.

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