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Dan Mafora’s book examines attacks on the judiciary and constitution in South Africa

Sameera Casmod |
2 October 2023 | 13:22 SAST
2-min read

Picture: NB Publishers

In an interview on Radio Islam International, senior researcher at CASAC (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution) Dan Mafora discussed his new book, Capture in the Court: In Defence of Judges and the Constitution. The book explores the challenges faced by the judiciary and the Constitution in the wake of attacks by populist factions.

Mafora begins by addressing the increasing attacks on judges and the courts in South Africa. He highlights how it has become acceptable to make baseless allegations against judges and the judiciary without providing any proof. These attacks not only delegitimise judges but also undermine the credibility of the courts as constitutional institutions. Mafora’s book delves into the reasons behind these attacks, the individuals and groups perpetuating them, and the potential consequences for the legitimacy of the courts.

One key aspect of Mafora’s research focuses on the critiques surrounding South Africa’s Constitution. He explores allegations that the Constitution preserves the status quo of 1994, hinders land reform, and lacks a genuine conception of justice. Through a thorough analysis, Mafora argues that many of these critiques do not hold up to scrutiny. He emphasises that the Constitution itself is not inhibiting justice and land reform but rather the political decisions made in the early 1990s.

The interview also addresses the shift in South African politics, where political issues are increasingly brought to the courts for resolution instead of being robustly discussed and resolved through political means. Mafora attributes this trend to the lack of accountability in political leadership, forcing civil society and opposition parties to turn to the courts as independent institutions for solutions.

Mafora’s book is written in an accessible style, making it suitable for a broad audience interested in current affairs. He hopes that it will enable more meaningful discussions about these critical issues in everyday life and the workplace.

Among the conclusions drawn in the book, Mafora highlights the lack of commitment to the Constitution by political parties across the board. He emphasises the need for political parties to recommit to the Constitution’s values and to clarify their positions on constitutional matters. Additionally, he calls for increased public education about judges, courts, and the Constitution to help citizens better understand these vital institutions.

In the final segment of the interview, Mafora underscores the importance of judges remaining circumspect and refraining from entering into public debates and political controversies. He believes that judges should focus on their role in administering the law and that civil society can play a significant role in defending them against attacks.

Readers interested in Mafora’s book, Capture in the Court: In Defence of Judges and the Constitution, can find it available for purchase on various platforms, including Takealot, Loot and major bookstores like Exclusive Books, Reader’s Warehouse and Wordsworth.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Annisa Essack.


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