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A South African Courtcom Trilogy
Any person who often watches TV would have come across the terms “sitcom” and “romcom”, the latter being a romantic comedy. What follows has all the makings of a “Courtcom” (Court Comedy), albeit that the people on the receiving end of the bizarre goings-on in the erstwhile Natal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa, as described herein, did not regard the atrocities inflicted on them by the judges as funny.
Botha v Web-the first tragedy in the trilogy
Rough justice indeed!
On 12 November 1979 the Natal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa (as the High Court of this country was known at the time) handed down a judgement in the appeal matter of Webb and Others v Botha, to which I shall herein refer to as the “Botha case”, Mrs. Amanda Lanza Botha having been the hapless respondent in the matter.
The judgement was a culmination of legal atrocities that included a plethora of procedural irregularities perpetrated by the presiding judges and a character assassination inflicted on the attorney of the respondent in the matter. Sadly so, the unconscionable behaviour of the judges also led to the demise of the respondent’s case and caused her to lose complete faith in the credibility of the administration of justice in South African. And, as would appear from what follows, all of the atrocities were made possible, not only by the fraudulent conduct of the appellants’ attorney, but also by the failure of the presiding judges to adhere to the principles of South African jurisprudence that bound them.
The unconscionable conduct of the judges consisted of illegally refusing to allow the advocate of Mrs Botha to present to the court vital evidence that was concealed from the court by the appellants’ attorney, evidence that would have exposed the fraud of the Appellant’s attorneys, and exonerated the Respondent’s attorney. The upshot of the fraud committed by the Appellant’s attorney, and the illegal refusal of the judges to allow and consider evidence that was tendered on behalf of the Respondent, was that the judges in the matter wrongfully and illegally made false and defamatory utterances that Respondent’s attorney;
• “obstructed the interest of justice”;
• “occasioned unnecessary costs to be incurred by all the parties to the appeal”; and
• “delayed the final determination of the action”.
As will appear from what follows herein, all of the quoted words, as contained in the judgement, flowed from figments of the imaginations of the learned judges and are not to the slightest extent based on true facts.
To add insult to injury the court thereafter made a punitive order for costs against the Respondent’s attorney by ordering him to pay the costs of all six parties in the appeal matter (five Appellants, and the Respondent) on the attorney and client scale (nogal!).
What makes the conduct of the judges just that much more draconian is that, had the judges indeed allowed all the germane evidence to be presented by Mrs Botha’s attorney (as they were legally obliged to do in terms of the rules of natural justice) then they would have been duty-bound;
· not only not to order punitive costs against the Respondent’s attorney;
· to order such costs against the appellants’ attorney;
· to refer the fraudulent conduct of the Appellant’s attorney to the prosecuting authority; and
· to report the criminal conduct of the Appellants’ attorney to the Natal Law Society.