Lamola calls on lawyers association to assist in transforming legal profession
Port Elizabeth - Speaking on Wednesday at a conference of the Black Lawyers Association and the judicial council of the National Bar Association, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola said the relationship between two organisations was significant.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the relationship between Black Lawyers Association of South Africa and the National Bar Association is of immense importance to both South Africa and the United States (US).
"As organisations, you share a common history and dare I say mission which is the pursuit of racial and gender equality in society, broadly but more acutely in the legal profession."
But, Lamola said, issues of race and gender transformation were compounded by class differences. "When one visits our correctional facilities across the length and breadth of South Africa, it is patently clear that social inequalities filter into the justice system.
"It is no coincidence that the majority of offenders in our correctional services are young black males. This is also true for the US. This has a direct correlation to how people of colour, in-particular, access justice.
"As a budding democracy, South Africa is seized with issues of this nature, we look forward to hearing your insights as the National Bar on how you continue to address racial, gender and class bias from every aspect of the judiciary and the law enforcement process," the minister said.
He said that it was important to repair the system to regain the public's confidence in courts, to eradicate case backlogs and to improve the entire justice system.
"As I stand before you, we have a common immediate purpose. As members of the executive, we have recognised that this great nation needs a unified approach … that we all need to lend a hand in its reconstruction."
Lamola said that the corruption in the country would not have been possible without the help of professionals, including lawyers. "A capable state will require the ... professionals to not only help us rebuild the state in words, but in action.
"In February we will be publishing the proclamation of the State Attorney Amendment Act, we view this as a decisive step towards transforming the Office of the State Attorney and also creating an environment where government briefing patterns will be addressed substantively.
"We hope that seasoned professionals will put their hands up and be willing to assist us in every way possible, as we embark on a process to find and appoint a progressive Solicitor General.
Lamola said that despite many challenges, South Africa's democracy was robust and he lauded the independence of country's judiciary as "sacrosanct".
"President Mandela speaking on this matter once said, 'The independence of the judiciary is one of the pillars of our democracy and equally fundamental is the commitment to abide by the decisions of the courts, whether they are in one’s favour or not'," the minister said.
Lamola said the same principles would be extended to the country's We prosecuting authority and law enforcement agencies.
"Ultimately the dictum, 'Let Justice Be Done Even If The Heavens May Fall” is a dictum we must all embody," he said.
"We congratulate the BLA for a journey well travelled and we are looking forward to continued engagements with this progressive association in our quest of
transforming the legal profession and we dare not falter on this noble mandate," Lamola said.
African News Agency/ANA