Stop political interference

In terms of our constitution, South Africa is a model democratic state - or at least it should be. But if there is interference in the judicial process, either by politicians or pressure groups, then this ideal democracy will be sullied.

In terms of our constitution, South Africa is a model democratic state - or at least it should be. But if there is interference in the judicial process, either by politicians or pressure groups, then this ideal democracy will be sullied.

Repeated allegations of presidential or political interference in the process of laying charges against senior political leaders or senior state officials leave a cloud over South Africa's democratic image of its various independent constitutional institutions.

Mere statements to the contrary do not suffice any more. The best way to counter such allegations is to allow a free and unfettered judicial process to take its course. Preferably sooner rather than later, and without counter threats of plunging the country into crisis.

In France and Italy, criminal charges against heads of state pended, but were instituted only after their temporary immunity ended. I am not aware of a similar immunity from prosecution applying to senior office-bearers in South Africa. But it appears that plea bargaining is used excessively in this country.

If there is substance in the very serious indications made by Andrew Feinstein, the former leading ANC representative on the parliamentary public accounts committee - and there appears to be - then South Africans indeed have cause to be concerned.

Valentin Volker, Pietermaritzburg

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