Court ruling must be respected

Court ruling must be respected.
Court ruling must be respected.

The rule of law and the justice system as a whole will not function optimally without society respecting the courts and the rulings they make, no matter how much we may disagree with them.

This is not to say that once a judgment has been passed, the population should have no right to comment or criticise it.

But the manner in which we criticise the judiciary and the judges' decisions should never unjustifiably question the motive of a court arriving at a particular conclusion.

It would be an understatement to say advocate Nomgcobo Jiba would not win a popularity contest were it to be adjudicated upon by the country's commentariat.

With some justification, the deputy national director of public prosecutions is perceived to have been part of senior public officials and politicians whose actions and omissions aided former president Jacob Zuma's weakening of the state's capacity to fight corruption.

It is therefore no surprise that, over the years, she has found herself the focus of many campaigns by civil society groups and political parties pushing back against the former Zuma administration.

It should also not surprise anyone that Tuesday's Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling, which essentially cleared her way to return to work after two years of leave, does not enjoy universal support.

The SCA bench was itself divided on whether it was correct for the General Council of the Bar of SA to strike her and her colleague, Lawrence Mrwebi, off the roll of advocates.

While the majority judgment was in Jiba and Mrwebi's favour, the minority agreed with the council that they were "not fit and proper" to be advocates.

While it is the right of those who disagree to criticise it and to characterise Jiba's seemingly imminent return to the National Prosecuting Authority as a blow to the criminal justice system, no one should impugn the integrity of the judges who ruled in her favour.

Suggesting that some did so because they have links to Zuma, when no one had objected when they were appointed to hear the case, amounts to an attempt to bully the judiciary, and can only discredit both the justice system and the commentariat in the eyes of the public.

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