Cases and appeals on roll – courts’ hands full with high-profile legal matters.
This year, just like 2017, is likely to be a busy period for our superior courts.
It is a year in which President Jacob Zuma could finally have his day in court on those 783 counts of corruption. But that will hinge on whether or not he succeeds with his representation to the National Prosecuting Authority, and he has up until the end of the month to do so.
The matter of Zuma’s appeal of a recent North Gauteng High Court judgment – which set aside the appointment of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams and ordered Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint the new chief prosecutor – is one case to watch.
The high court found that Zuma was conflicted and should not appoint the NDPP.
Zuma has petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), while the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution has asked the Constitutional Court to hear the confirmation proceedings on the matter urgently.
Another big case before the courts is that of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius. He has filed papers before the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis to have his 13-year sentence set aside. The SCA increased his prison term from six years following his 2016 conviction for the murder of his lover Reeva Steenkamp.
Next month the apex court will hear arguments in the long drawn-out battle for the kingship of AmaMpondo aseQaukeni, in a matter that has been previously dismissed by both the North Gauteng High Court and the SCA.
Mpondo Princess Weziwe Sigcau and her mother Masobhuza Sigcau are challenging the manner in which Zuma implemented a recommendation of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims to award the disputed kingship to Zanozuko Sigcau in 2010.
They contend that the president did not follow procedure as the Mpondo royal family was not consulted as the old law governing these matters supposedly dictated. Weziwe’s father Mpondombini successfully challenged Zuma at the Constitutional Court a few years ago, but died before the court made its verdict on his removal.
But the ConCourt’s ruling did not say who should be the rightful king, and now Weziwe is challenging the idea that only males could inherit the thrown and wants to continue in her father’s stead. Both the president and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs are opposing the application.
Another case of public interest is the appeal lodged at the ConCourt by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha against a judgment of the Western Cape High Court that political parties and candidates participating in local government polls should declare information about their private funders.
The high court ruled in favour of My Vote Counts in September after the lobby group challenged the constitutionality of a section of Public Access to Information Act dealing with the recording of this information. The ConCourt is set to hear the matter in March.
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