Getrude Makhafola
2 minute read
6 Jan 2022
11:49 am

Safety of judges, staff at Concourt compromised, says Zondo

Getrude Makhafola

Zondo said the attack requires urgent attention, especially in light of other attacks on government buildings.

The Constitutional Court windows that were allegedly damaged by a 36-year-old man in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on 5 January 2022. The man was arrested by police for malicious damage to property. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The vandalism of the Constitutional Court has left the safety of justices and staffers compromised, Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said.

In a statement issued by his office, Zondo said he was satisfied by police reaction and the arrest of a 36-year-old man before he could cause further damage to the court.

Using a hammer, the suspect allegedly smashed windows, causing cracks and holes on the Constitutional Court main entrance side, a day after Zondo handed over Part 1 of the state capture commission report. He allegedly continued to hammer away despite police warning him to stop.

The suspect was charged with malicious damage to property and will appear in court soon.

“It is necessary to mention that this incident doesn’t in any way hamper the Justices and staffers from preforming their duties. However, due to such incident, the security of the Judiciary, the supporting staff and the general court users remains compromised and requires urgent attention.”

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa appoints new Concourt judges

He added that the attack on the highest court in the land came shortly after “unprecedented attacks” on some other State buildings, with threats made in recent times to attack the country’s superior courts. The attacks and threats sought to cause the destruction of the public facilities that the public rely on for the protection of their constitutional rights, Zondo said.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Wednesday slammed the incident, saying it was an attack on democracy.

“The Constitutional Court is a powerful symbol of our constitutional dispensation, the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law in our country. Any person who attacks the Constitutional Court – or any other of our democratic institutions for that matter – is attacking democracy and what it represents,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, non-government organisation Judges Matter said a National Key Point such as the Braamfontein apex court should be provided with extra security.

“We shudder to think what could have happened had he had a more powerful weapon. Judges Matter therefore calls on government to take urgent measures to protect critical institutions of democracy from harm while at the same making sure that they remain accessible to ordinary South Africans” the organisation said.