Abrahams ruling is not judicial overreach: Black Lawyers Association

12 December 2017 - 15:20 By Timeslive
Shaun Abrahams. File photo.
Shaun Abrahams. File photo.

The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) has refuted claims that a high court ruling setting aside the appointment of National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams amounted to “judicial overreach”.

“Many people of high political and public standing and some organisations reacted to this judgment by accusing the judiciary of ‘serious judicial overreach’ and disrespect of separation of powers between the executive‚ legislature and the judiciary‚” read a statement by BLA president Lutendo Sigogo on Tuesday.

“Some accusations went to the extent of suggesting that the actions by the High Court is tantamount to ‘judicial coup d’etat’‚ if not endorsement of one ANC presidential hopeful above the other‚ in the coming ANC presidential elections. These sort of unsubstantiated accusations against the judiciary are unwarranted as they are not borne out in the body of the judgment.”

The North Gauteng High Court handed down its judgment in the matter between Corruption Watch and others versus President Jacob Zuma and others on December 8.

It found the appointment of advocate Abrahams to be unlawful. The court also ruled that Zuma‚ as president of the country‚ was conflicted in appointing‚ suspending or removing the next National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The BLA said that a finding of “conflict of interest” was founded on facts.

“As such BLA views the accusations of judicial overreach and judicial coup d’état accusations as nothing but a means to deter the judiciary from fulfilling its constitutional mandate as conferred on it under section 165 of the Constitution. These accusations are also calculated to undermine the independence of the courts. If these accusations are not challenged and refuted impression may be formed that there are exerted efforts from some quarters of our society to instil fear in our courts so that they may also be subject of capture and unlawful control‚” said Sigogo.

The BLA said it was unfortunate that people such as Bathabile Dlamini‚ a member of cabinet and a leader of the ANC Women’s League‚ did not appear to have taken time to study the judgment before venturing an opinion on it.

“BLA condemns attacks of the judiciary by prominent people in society who may not be satisfied with the outcomes in cases before courts‚ as courts by their nature‚ are not free to join the discourse and defend themselves. Courts‚ like any other arms of the state‚ are not immune from criticism. But such criticism must be done within the legal framework and preferably through the appeal or review processes.”