Treat Zuma's son fairly, we all deserve it

Duduzane Zuma arrives for his appearance at The Specialized Crimes Court, in Johannesburg.
Duduzane Zuma arrives for his appearance at The Specialized Crimes Court, in Johannesburg.
Image: ALON SKUY

A much-vaunted and appraised virtue of a democratic order such as the one SA opted for and endorsed in 1994, is the rule of law and equality before the law.

Democracy by its nature requires continuous vigilance on the part of the governed to ensure the powerful uphold the values the people aspire to.

The checks and balances often built into our constitution - that binding contract we collectively signed to - will not come into their own by themselves.

They require ordinary people and those empowered to give the system effect to do what is required of them.

Often described as one of the "best in the world", the South African constitution was often put to the test during the tumultuous reign of Jacob Zuma when the wisdom of the founding fathers to have such a set-up came to the fore.

True to that tenet of the law - equality before the law - now Zuma is about to stand trial for alleged crimes committed while he was in office. It is a development unheard of in many corners of the world, even in so-called developed nations where some powerful individuals somehow manage to stay a step out of reach of the long arm of the law.

But while Schadenfreude feelings may all be tempting when we see the once powerful reaping what they sow, it is still imperative to stick to the rules by which we have collectively pledged to play.

A case in point was the news on Friday that Zuma's son, Duduzane, had been briefly detained on arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport in connection with unspecified charges. We would counsel law enforcement agencies that rushed, ill-considered action will do the pursuit of justice no good.

That Zuma junior had to be released as hastily as he was detained because there was no warrant of arrest raises questions. Why were law enforcement officials all too hasty to take him in?

He is no fugitive from justice, he would have reached that point were he to fail to appear in court to face charges of culpable homicide in connection with a fatal taxi crash.

What someone thought was a good public relations stunt may well turn horribly wrong if law enforcement gets all too excited.

SA can ill-afford bungles in this case or any other which if handled properly will serve to show that constitutionally we are on firm ground.

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