Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist


Judiciary will continue to protect rule of law, even under difficult circumstances – Zondo

Zondo said attacks on the judiciary were heightened during the deadly July unrest that followed former president Jacob Zuma incarceration.


Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has assured South Africans that the country’s judiciary will continue to act as guardians of the Constitution, despite unprecedented attacks on the judiciary by politicians.

Zondo on Tuesday presented the judiciary’s annual report for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 during a virtual media briefing. The report, which is released annually on Judiciary Day, gives insights into how the judiciary is performing as a branch of the state.

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Zondo, reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the Constitution since it was signed into law by former president Nelson Mandela on 10 December 1996, said the judiciary understood that it derived its power from the Constitution and assured citizens that it would continue to defend the country’s laws in spite of attacks.

“All our courts in the next 25 years and beyond will be required to continue to defend the Constitution, to uphold the constitution, to protect all the rights in the Bill of Rights, to protect judicial independence, to protect the rule of law even under difficult circumstances when they may suffer attacks of all kinds,” Zondo said.

“Nevertheless, the times that lay ahead the country and judiciary will require a judiciary that is strong, a judiciary that is determined to protect our constitutional democracy even under difficult circumstances. I am satisfied that the judiciary that we have will be up to the job,” he added.

Security threats

Zondo said the attacks on the judiciary were heightened during the deadly July unrest that followed the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) in late June, for refusing to obey court orders to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, chaired by Zondo.

He said the security threats against members of the judiciary were handled by the state and he was confident that any future threats would promptly be dealt with.

“The issue of the security of the judiciary was handled by the state and there were discussions involving the leadership of the judiciary, which conferred on what actually needed to be done, and at that stage, the measures that were taken were understood by the judiciary,” Zondo said.

Zondo praises Mogoeng Mogoeng

Zondo, who is among the candidates vying to be appointed as South Africa’s next chief justice, started the media briefing on Tuesday by thanking the former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his contribution to the judiciary over a period of 10 years.

Mogoeng retired in October as the head of the ConCourt.

Zondo said the contributions Mogoeng made during his term of office led to a strong judiciary.

“I thank him, too, for the enormous contribution he made during his term of office as chief justice to the building of a strong, independent, effective and efficient judiciary,” he said.

The acting chief justice said the judiciary was not spared from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its operations, but nonetheless, it managed to adapt to the new normal and switch from physical to virtual court proceedings and operations.

Summary of findings from judiciary annual report 2020-2021:

  • The 2020-2021 performance plan for the judiciary has been developed. It defines and identifies performance indicators and targets for the various courts.
  • The ConCourt had set for itself a target of 70% of finalised matters. It had 445 matters and finalised 273 of those.
  • The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had set for itself a target of 80% of finalised matters during the period under review. It had a total of 241 matters and it finalised 196 of those.
  • The divisions of the High Court had set for themselves the target of 75% of finalised criminal matters and they achieved 85%. The various divisions of the High Court had a total of 11,413 criminal cases and they finalised 9749 of those cases.
  • The Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court had set for themselves the target of 58% finalised labour matters. They were unable to achieve that target but achieved 52%.
  •  The Land Claims Court had set for itself the target of 60% finalised matters. It had a total of 149 cases and finalised 108 of them. That translated to the achievement of 72%. That was 12% above the target.
  • The Competition Appeal Court had set for itself a target of 85% finalised matters. It had a total of 10 cases and it did all of them and, therefore, achieved 100% which was 15% above the target it had set for itself.
  • The Electoral Court had set for itself the target of 90% finalised matters. It received a total of 9 cases all which it did and, therefore, achieved 100% of finalised matters which was 10% above the target it had set for itself.

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