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Malema slammed for populist attack on the judiciary

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola .Photograph : Phando Jikelo / African News Agency ( ANA)

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola .Photograph : Phando Jikelo / African News Agency ( ANA)

Published Oct 24, 2023


The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, condemned alleged vitriolic attacks on the judiciary.

This comes after EFF leader Julius Malema, who is currently standing trial for the discharge of a firearm in public, accused Magistrate Twanet Olivier of corruption and incompetence.

Malema recently launched an unsuccessful discharge application that he brought to the lower court.

Speaking on behalf of the minister, spokesperson for the department of justice and correctional services, Chrispin Phiri, said criticism of the judiciary is welcome. However, this has to be balanced without sensational conspiracy theories.

“Whilst it is acceptable to criticise the decisions of judges and debate them and magistrates, it is not acceptable to direct sensational conspiracy theories at judicial officers, where one finds the conduct of a judicial officer unacceptable, such conduct must be complained of at the relevant institution, in this case it,” Phiri said.

Malema’s utterances have also attracted a reaction from Justice Matter, a judiciary accountability organisation, which also condemned the President of the EFF.

The organisation’s research and advocacy officer, Mbekezeli Benjamin, told the SABC Malema’s criticism is without any basis and was uncalled for.

“We’re utterly shocked and absolutely disappointed by Mr Malema’s comments. The court hearing had adjourned by that time, and he went outside to address hundreds of his supporters- accusing the magistrate of being corrupt, of having received calls from politician and of not knowing her job. That is completely out of line. In fact, he should retract and apologise for those comments. Because those comments are designed to undermine the magistrate and the judiciary as an institution,” Benjamin said.

Phiri said role players, including political parties, must ensure independence of the judiciary and only use appropriate channels to air their dissatisfaction.

“We call upon all role players to ensure they uphold the independence of the judiciary by seeking accountability through established channels, not populist channels where no due process can be established. It is common cause that where one believes there is questionable conduct by a judicial officer, complaints should be duly filed with the Judicial Services Commission or the Magistrates Commission, as the case may be,” said Phiri.