This week, the first of the year, I’ve spent hours reading the most recent judgments of the Swazi appeal court only to be sickened by the enormity of the rape problem in that country. But while the drive for tougher rape sentences in South Africa came from the legislature, in Swaziland those rumblings come from the bench.
Rape and the correct sentence to impose on rapists was one of the dominating issues during this most recent appeal court session. But while these decisions may be useful, they were made against a complex background not mentioned by the judges.
A significant week for the judiciary this, with the death of former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson and, a few days later, of Judge Andrew Wilson, who headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) amnesty committee.
Following widespread coverage of the many tributes to Chaskalson, few people will be unaware of the role he played in South Africa’s legal and political life.
When Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel spoke in The Hague earlier this month, some people might have wondered why he bothered. Addressing a high-level meeting at the seat of the International Criminal Court (ICC), he assured the rest of the world that South Africa fully supported the ICC and the laws that set it up.