Correctional Services spokesman Manelisi Wolela has denied allegations that student leader Mcebo Dla.
Judges can be criticised because they can be influenced as they are political appointees, said Professor Sipho Seepe.
"We should not fool ourselves and think that judges are immune from being influenced, as some of them were political activists before being appointed to those positions," he added.
Seepe was speaking in Ntuzuma, north of Durban, on Wednesday during discussions of the "Post-Polokwane Conversations".
The "Post-Polokwane Conversations" project are "round-table" sessions that are hosted at various communities around the country to encourage and ensure that local voices are heard.
Seepe said it was wrong to think that judges and magistrates were independent individuals.
"Some of our current magistrates and judges were political activists and are there because they were politically appointed.
"We must not fool ourselves into thinking that criticising them is wrong because they can be influenced," Seepe said.
He said what happened to ANC president Jacob Zuma was an indication that South Africa had no respect for the law.
"Zuma had to hear from the media that he was being charged.
"Let's save the country from itself. It is time to reform our institutions and end what we believe is unjust.
"Justice can only be protected if there is equal treatment for all individuals," he said.
Bishop Pule Magethi, of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, said SA's justice system had collapsed in terms of its efficiency.
"This is dangerous and threatens the security of our country as people publicly state their lack of confidence in the criminal justice system.
"It is not healthy at all. The criminal justice system is a country's spine.
A revamp of our criminal justice system is necessary, but that alone is not sufficient," he said.
Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini said only denialists would say that Polokwane did not bring about change.
He said the new leadership was closer to the people than the previous one.