Forget about September 1 marking the “official” start of spring: I knew to the millisecond this time as the seasons changed in Smithfield. It was well before dawn when two trembling and terrified dogs jumped on top of me for protection from an almighty thunder clap, immediately followed by a noisy downpour.
I checked the clock, 4.05am, the moment the spring rains started.
When you hear someone talking about “judicial temperament” it’s usually a discussion casting doubt on whether the judge concerned has the qualities of personality required by the job. It’s not often an issue in South Africa at the moment, but the question has to be asked about a senior jurist just across the border.
The Chief Justice of Swaziland, Michael Ramodibedi, is in something of a mess. He recently resigned as the top judge in Lesotho to avoid an impeachment inquiry. Now the Maseru prosecuting authorities are finalising charges against him relating to insurance fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
No one at the Platteland Preview festival in Smithfield this year will easily forget the opening night. Church bells ringing across the veld, marimba players regaling us with great jazz outside a fabulous venue, new and old friends, good food and drink.
And then the intriguing opening play – actor David Butler as Danie de Bruin in poet-playwright Chris Mann’s new one-hander. The Ballad of Dirk de Bruin has now moved to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, where it’s part of the fringe programme. But it’s also listed as a component of SpiritFest – a section of the festival subtitled “Celebration of the arts in the context of faith”.
That’s because Mann has cast De Bruin as an Everyman figure, battling with his conscience and what he believes is right.
It is National Child Protection Week and I’m pointing fingers. Everywhere the government exhorts: protect vulnerable children. So where were the state’s justice officials when Annah Ouma Mthimunye tried to get maintenance she was owed so she could care for and protect her children?
And what, in the name of all those vulnerable children who depend on maintenance payments to survive, is a magistrate doing simply “writing off” arrears payments that should have been made to Mthimunye? What “protection” is that?