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Deputy Chief Justice flags ignorance of rule of law and courts as contributing to social issues

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Deputy Chief Justice and Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga, Mandisa Maya, has delivered the keynote address at the 7th Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Annual Lecture on Ethical and Moral Leadership.

The Deputy Chief Justice cited the lack of the knowledge in the rule of law and importance of the courts as a contributing factors to most of the societal-ills facing the country.

Maya also called on leaders to act ethically at all times. She emphasised the importance of understanding the rule of law and the courts – especially at this current time.

Maya says further that courts have no value if they fail to protect the rights of the people.

“It’s not enough to have laws that are fair, but also must provide equally justice and protection for everyone. There must be an enforcing authority over the law, this authority is found in the court of law – courts are the enforcers of the rule of law, and in executing their duties they must be both impartial and free from all external influences.”

Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya addresses Archbishop Thabo Makgoba annual lecture:

Maya’s address at the annual lecture comes amid outcry over two recent high-profile court rulings. Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court granted Janusz Walus parole. Walus, a Polish national, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of struggle icon and leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Chris Hani, in 1993.

In another high profile matter, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that found that former president Jacob Zuma’s release from prison on medical parole was unlawful and unconstitutional. The court further ruled that Zuma must return to jail to finish his sentence, but it left it to the National Commissioner of Correctional Services to determine how much of the 15-month term Zuma still needed to serve. The Department of Correctional Services says it will appeal the ruling.

Although Maya didn’t make any reference to the cases she said all arms of State must play their role in society, and that Chapter 9 institutions must be supported and held accountable.

“In terms of our constitution, no one arm of government carries a bigger burden in the execution of this constitutional obligation than the other. The judiciary, executive and legislature- and the institutions created to protect the constitutional democracy- must all work hard jointly and severally, as stipulated, to create a prosperous South Africa that the constitution envisaged so that no one arm is overburdened,” says the Deputy Chief Justice.

Maya says the democracy attained in 1994 should be enjoyed by all and that leaders must act ethically in order to build confidence in the rule of law.

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