LSSA strongly condemns disturbing personal attacks on the NPA head and on the judiciary

October 4th, 2019

By Nomfundo Jele

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has once again reiterated its previous condemnation against any attack on the judiciary. In a press release in early September, the LSSA stated that social media had been overflowing with claims, backed by a purported ‘list’, claiming that certain judges and prosecutors had allegedly been paid various amounts by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 African National Congress Presidential campaign, known as the CR17 campaign fund.

The LSSA stated: ‘We strongly condemn the disturbing personal attack on the National Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi. The rumours circulating online that Ms Batohi was paid R 1,75 million by the fund are unnecessary and devoid of any merit.

The social media posts resort to a new strategy of casting aspersions through peddling fake news against the judiciary and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). A malicious and dangerous strategy, which is now being used is to identify and discredit some judges, the NPA head and all those who act without fear, favour or prejudice,’ said LSSA President Mvuzo Notyesi.

He added: ‘We believe that the recent fake news purporting itself as information from the sealed bank statement of the CR17 campaign are unwarranted attacks, which appear to have the sole aim of undermining the judiciary and the NPA and, therefore, cannot be in the interest of society. It is regrettable that there are people who seek to impugn the integrity of the judiciary and the NPA.’

According to the press release, the LSSA stands firm in support of the institutions of justice, including the judges and prosecutors mentioned in the fake e-mails, Twitter parody accounts and on other social media platforms. The LSSA rejects the suggestion that both the NPA head and the mentioned judges received money from the CR17 campaign. ‘We regard these allegations as an attack on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary,’ Mr Notyesi stated.

The LSSA urged legal practitioners to stand firm on all platforms, including social media and print media, and to dismiss these malicious and dangerous allegations. The LSSA reminded the public and litigants that any person who has a complaint against a member of the judiciary or the NPA, should follow the mechanisms in place to lodge such complaints. ‘We must respect the Constitution and the rule of law. Should anyone feel strongly about their convictions, the LSSA urges the complainants to submit these complaints with full grounds to the Judicial Service Commission for urgent investigation, as this is the correct body to investigate such serious allegations against judges,’ Mr Notyesi concluded.

Nomfundo Jele, Communications Officer, Law Society of South Africa,