Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Concourt confusions

The Constitutional Court is both awe-inspiring and beautiful. It is an experience of note to sit in the gallery of the giant court chamber and watch the country's top legal minds in action. The sight of that grand string of cloaked judges taking their seats as they preside over the highest court in the land is quite something to behold and well worth the effort.
The upstairs press gallery, however, is another story. This morning I was sent off to cover the beginning stages of the hearing into whether or not South Africans living overseas should be allowed to register and then cast their votes in the forthcoming election - despite the fact that the deadline allowing them to do so has passed. It was a last minute decision by the editors in charge, so I was too late to get one of the prized front row seats that allows for a decent view of the proceedings below and was forced to huddle with the latecomers.
So there I was, perched with notebook on lap, frantically taking notes in case fireworks erupted into front page news for the afternoon edition of my paper. This did not happen. Lawyers acting on behalf of the applicants droned on, speaking in some kind of legal code. The judges responded intermittently: Judge Albie Sachs wanting clarification on an issue, Judge Kate O'Regan making an observation or blind Judge Yacoob arguing a point.
It was all very hushed and proper. As rows of journalists scribbled away around me, I listened intently, wondering if I was the only one who didn't quite get the meaning of the interactions taking place. Did everybody else understand a long rambling point made by a lawyer and his even longer response when asked to re-discuss it in terms of Section 37B of the Electoral Act with reference to its wider consequences and future ramifications??
I nervously checked with my colleagues and got the reassurance I needed. We were all in the dark. Thankfully. It was going to take a while for a picture to emerge and a story to formulate. I left, grateful to be able to hand the case over to the politics reporter. Phew.
Back at the office I got to grips with a good old crime story. A Pretoria family were arrested for fraud, theft and money laundering. A stinking rich woman, her husband and father-in-law were bust by a top cop and his team, and the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized all their stuff. One of the cars they took was a Bentley Turbo. I checked it out on Wikipedia and discovered that it rates as more expensive than the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit, going for US$145 000.
I bet she never took that baby joyriding through Jozi!!


  1. hhmmm... were they rich because they were bamboozling everyone, or rich besides?

  2. Definitely rich in a "I cannot explain" kind of way, and a "I have not paid proper tax on this" way too! :)