President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed recently retired Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron as the Inspecting Judge of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services.
Cameron will take on the role for a three-year term, starting at the beginning of 2020.
“The president has also in terms of Section 86(1)(b) reappointed the current Inspecting Judge, the Honourable Justice Johann van der Westhuizen, for a period of three months, with immediate effect, until 31 December 2019. Justice Van der Westhuizen is also a retired judge of the Constitutional Court,” said a statement from the presidency.
“The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services is tasked with monitoring and oversight of correctional facilities around the country and reports on the treatment of inmates and the conditions of correctional centres.”
Cameron made the justice system the topic of a lecture he delivered – the 2019 Rabinowitz Lecture – at the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Law on September 13.
Cameron’s suggestions for reforming the justice system included the abolishment of minimum sentences for nonviolent crime, such as drug-related charges and extortion, improving prison conditions, and the release of elderly offenders.
He said he referred to prisoners “over the age of 50, when the risk of recidivism diminishes markedly. This should be done according to individual assessment.”
Cameron described the justice system as being “in a frightening vortex”, saying it was “fatally flawed and defective”, citing the “institutional disintegration” of law enforcement due to “criminal syndicates taking over the government and institutions, at the very highest level”.
“We are terrified by crime, so terrified that we are trapped in our futile responses, our own self-interest to find solutions that will affect and reduce crime,” he said.
Cameron cited the collapse of capacity in the SAPS and the NPA, which he said was “sharply aggravated in the Zuma years”.
During this time, “public trust in police and the administration of justice sank as botched and malevolently inspired appointments undermined basic functioning”, he said.
Cameron retired in August after 25 years as a judge, the last of which were spent as a Constitutional Court justice.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng honoured Cameron following the delivery of his final judgment, saying he personified the values of nonracialism.
He also noted Cameron’s role in the fight against HIV/Aids.
Cameron is openly gay and was one of the first public figures to disclose his HIV status in the early 1990s. He became an outspoken critic of then president Thabo Mbeki’s policies, which many considered to be Aids-denialist.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)