Letters to the Editor July 2015

June 29th, 2015
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Letters are not published under noms de plume. However, letters from practising attorneys who make their identities and addresses known to the editor may be considered for publication anonymously.

To what extent have the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals damaged personal and professional relations around the

I have personal and professional relations with a variety of brothers and sisters in various parts of the continent. In particular, I have close relations in the following countries: Kenya; Democratic Republic of Congo; Nigeria; Uganda; Malawi and Mozambique, as a friend and colleague. A Kenyan friend intended to take me to his village, to meet his family and friends. The practice of being taken to one’s village is very important in the continent, as it is regarded as one of the most important gestures to seal the relationship and to become one family.

In light of the barbaric xenophobic/afrophobic attacks, I do not even know what to expect, should I visit some of the African countries, as aforesaid. I, however, called my non-South African friends and apologised for this unjustified behavior.

I also assured them that South Africa is a caring society, founded on important constitutional values such as human dignity, equality, and right to life. The recent attacks, though committed by few South Africans, does not represent what South Africa stands for.

There is no justification, whatsoever, for this kind of conduct, as it is un-African and also impairs the dignity of both the perpetrator and the victim. I am encouraged by the fact that our government has taken some positive steps to addressing the root causes of this behavioral pattern from South Africans and making sure that it does not recur.

It may also be important for our government to educate ordinary South
Africans on the importance of the values enshrined in our Constitution, in order to make sure that our people understand that everyone in the Republic is protected by law, irrespective of their country of origin or immigration status.

Ivan Ka-Mbonane, attorney, Johannesburg


Attorney: Embrace mediation

As litigation attorney and mediator I feel that we as attorneys must embrace mediation.

Litigation attorneys will know that it is nothing strange to have more than a hundred cases on the roll each and every day in the Gauteng Division, Pretoria. For all these cases there are normally about six to eight judges available to resolve all these matters.

Third party claims take at least two to three years to finalise. Because of the problems that they experience state attorneys find it very difficult to settle their matters.

Due to cases taking so long to settle, many of my clients have passed away before their claims could be settled. The pressure that is put on our court system cannot be resolved through litigation alone.

We as attorneys have an obligation to always act in the best interest of our clients. For that reason we have to start looking for faster and less expensive ways to resolve disputes.

There are many disputes where litigation will always be required, but internationally it has been proven that mediation has more advantages than litigation.

In our court system, mediation is not an alien concept, r 37(6)(d) of the High Court Rules makes provision for mediation and we should start using mediation in the best interests of our clients because of its many advantages.

Mediation is here to stay and the faster we start using it for our clients and the court system as a whole, the better.

Pieter Nel, attorney/mediator, Nelspruit


Lethal injection

The recent South African court decision that a terminally ill person could be killed by a lethal injection (the American method of executing ‘death row’ instates), is a cause for grave concern for the following reason. There will without a doubt be more similar court applications, which may well succeed, in terms of our ‘stare decisis’ (the decision stands) legal precept, although the judge in this case stated that his ruling was only applicable in this instance. Certain media reports stated that government was opposed to this decision because of its very serious implications. This indicates the abyss of moral degeneration into which our nation appears to be rapidly sinking.

JDM McLeish, Johannesburg

  • See 2015 (June) DR 4.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2015 (July) DR 4.