Johannesburg - Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has hit out at Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for insulting and attacking African judges in an opinion piece published last week.
Justice Zondo took the extraordinary step of abandoning finalising the second of the three parts of the report of the commission of inquiry into state capture, which he chaired, to respond to Sisulu.
He said the judiciary has never demanded not to be criticised but that criticism should be fair and should have a proper factual basis.
”This is not criticism, it is an insult to the justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), judges president of all divisions and all African judges of this country,” Justice Zondo said.
He described Sisulu’s opinion piece, which was published by IOL, as attacking, insulting African judges and being rich in insults but very poor in substantiation and in offering any analysis.
”There is no substantiation of any of this, no attempt to put up any facts, refer to any judgment to demonstrate what she is talking about,” the country’s most senior judicial officer stated.
According to Justice Zondo, in her piece, Sisulu did not refer to any judgment and did not put up any facts to support what she was saying.
”It’s just accusations and insults to the judiciary. This is most regrettable,” he added.
Justice Zondo took particular issue with some paragraphs in Sisulu’s piece including: “The most dangerous African today is the mentally colonised African. And when you put them in leadership positions or as interpreters of the law, they are worse than your oppressor. They have no African or Pan African inspired ideological grounding. Some are confused by foreign belief systems.
In America, these interpreters are called the House Negroes. It is what the father of black history Carter Woodson strenuously complained about in his famous book The Miseducation of the Negro.
Justice Zondo said the passage left him with no doubt that Sisulu was referring to justices of the apex court, SCA and judges in all divisions of the high court.
”It should not be acceptable in a constitutional democracy such as ours that a Member of Parliament, member of the executive should wake up one morning without any facts and insult African judges,” he said.
Justice Zondo said Sisulu has insulted African judges.
”We, as the judiciary have done nothing, other than do our jobs. We take the oath that guides our work seriously,” he explained.
Justice Zondo said Sisulu might not like some of the decisions judges make but they (judges) take their oath seriously.
”We will not change that; we will continue to perform our functions in accordance with out oath of office. If that brings about the kind of insults that Sisulu has unleashed we will continue to do our work,” he said.