30 November 2022

Justice Maya said the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to the democracy of South Africa to enable judges to apply the law impartially and without influence to protect the constitution and its integrity.

“We must protect judiciary independence. Organs of state and individual should refrain from interfering with the functioning of the courts. Of course, the supremacy of the law lies in the appropriate checks and balances to make sure that there are accountability, responsiveness and openness values which are espoused by the constitution,” she said.

“The judiciary must always be in control of its functions and administration as well to ensure that there is sufficient protection for its integrity. Democracy requires a separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Despite the different roles played by the judiciary, executive and legislature, our democracy requires these spheres of government to work together.

UMPUMP Chancellor Justice Maya with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Mayekiso, Judge President Legodi, DVC: Professor Shirley Sommers and the University Management. 

Justice Maya spoke of equality before the law and that everyone is equal before the law. The Deputy Chief Justice also emphasised the importance of protecting the independence of the Chapter 9 institutions such as the Human Rights Commission, the Auditor General, the Electoral Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality and other related institutions.

“Other organs of state are obligated to protect these important institutions to ensure their independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness.”

She cites that despite the existence of the country’s sophisticated laws, and institutions established upon them, crime continues to skyrocket and that over 15 000 women were victims of assault, attempted murder and murder, while over 10 000 rape cases were reported. 

“The violation of women and children is escalating and that more women are murdered by their partners. Gender-Based Violence is a profound human race condition with major social and developmental impacts for survivors of violence, as well as their families, communities and society more broadly.”

Adding onto the problems of crime, Justice Maya added that the energy crisis and Covid-19, broken education system and the staggering unemployment of the youth add to society’s woes.

UMPUMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Mayekiso welcoming guest at the annual lecture.

“More than a third of people are lingering around not knowing what to do with themselves and get up to mischief because they have nothing to do. While huge sectors such as manufacturing and transport industries have reported a decline.

All of these factors have everything to do with the rule of law. Our laws, our organs of state or courts have no value at all if they do not protect all people inhabiting our country and do not give effect to their constitutional rights. No one of the government arms carries the bigger burden in execution of the constitutional obligation than the o others.

The judiciary, the executive, the legislature and institutions that have been created to protect our constitutional democracy must work hard jointly as stipulated by the constitution to create a South Africa that is envisaged so that no arm is burdened and having to carry the work that should be done by others.

An executive that does not diligently play its part and is not accountable, does not lead by example will ultimately lead to no confidence to our institutions, including our judiciary which is an overseer at the end of the day it is the glue that holds everything together."

Spirit of Ubuntu should prevail

She further explains that South Africa has made strides in other areas, such as providing water supply in rural and underserviced areas and providing electricity.

“Constitutional democracy has ensured that people with my skin colour and gender have become the deputy justice of the constitutional court, the woman Vice-Chancellor and educational institutions have been feminized. All these large gains have enabled the courts to protect rights of minority groups in our society," she added.

“Regrettably we seem to have lost the belief of Ubuntu – our connectedness and the notion that we exist because they exit is not there any more. These beliefs we need to restore to society, to remind our courts of the interconnectedness of our people, reminds our courts that if the rule of law becomes redundant our communities will suffer. Today, my message is that as we endeavour to find where we fit, as we try to find solutions to the problems. Each one of us can make a difference,” she concluded.

Speaking at the same event, UMP Vice–Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso spoke of the importance of ethical and moral leadership as an institution.

“As UMP, we are an African university that has a vision of creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation, but without ethical and moral leadership we will never achieve that.

The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Annual Lecture on Ethical and Moral Leadership has become a permanent feature on UMP’s calendar. Ethical and moral leadership need to be practised by everyone,” she said, adding that South Africa’s democracy is under threat due to the lapsing of ethical and moral leadership."

The event concluded on a high note with the announcement of the winner of the essay competition which required students to write about ethical and moral leadership. The winner, Bachelor of Arts student Precious Mamagobo, won a book voucher to the value of R1 000.

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures @Chrisplphoto.