The unbearable Dali Mpofu

Jeremy Gordin on the cruel and unusual punishment of listening to the SC, over hours

Important things first. Did you watch Denmark play England in the 2020 (sic) Euro second semi-final on Wednesday night?

Denmark began wilting in the second half and during extra time. Nonetheless it was a penalty awarded to England inside the box during extra time that allowed Perfidious Albion to take a 2-1lead and thus win the game.

What I’m actually asking you is whether you saw that penalty – or rather what was purported to be one? It wasn’t. Raheem Sterling dashed through Denmark’s defence, then went down in the box after what appeared to be – as they say – “minimal contact”.

Talk about understatement. There was hardly any contact at all. Sterling took a neat little dive. But whoever was personning the VAR (video assistant referee) had clearly had enough suspense for the evening or was blatantly pro-English. The Danes were, as they say, “robbed blind”.

Now my only hope is that the people “without papers” (Wops) will thump the Poms on Sunday. Why (you ask) do I even care?

I don’t really; mainly I’m a rugby purist who doesn’t even watch soccer. But chances are, alas, that the Springboks might not get to play the British & Irish Lions over the next few weeks, due to Covid-19 (a subject I’ll get back to).

Also consider that if the English win the UEFA competition, there’s going to be endless footage of beefy people with icky white skins (which we Seffricans don’t like anyway) holding pints of warm beer and singing “It’s coming home, it’s coming home”.

But at least soccer games end after about 150 minutes, at the most, and they’re pretty exciting (or the UEFA quarters and semis have been). On Tuesday afternoon I listened to about 360 minutes of Dali Mpofu SC making an application to Judge Bhekisisa Jerome Mnguni of the KZN High Court on behalf of Jacob “from Concourt to Estcourt” Zuma. (Oh yeah, to be fair you can deduct about 20 minutes from that – the time taken by the okes on the “other side”.)

What Mpofu SC wanted was for the poor judge to suspend the warrants for Zuma’s arrest and committal to prison. But why did he have to make such a prolix and unappetizing dog’s dish out of the whole thing? He just went on and on and on – and, confounding the issue, he is brilliantly inarticulate. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

I effectively submitted myself to cruel and unusual punishment; it was unalloyed masochism – and, boy, was I punished for it. Lord knows what possessed me. It must be the effects of lockdown or something.

Here’s the deal, Adv. Mpofu (and I’m not even asking for payment for this advice): in our system of jurisprudence, though the judgment of a lower court can be appealed in a higher court, courts may not mess with ones from another set; and a High Court judge certainly can’t modify or nullify a ConCourt order.

So why did Judge Mnguni allow the incomprehensible and oleaginous fellow to natter on and on, and why is the judge himself going to deliver a (doubtless) lengthy judgment tomorrow? Ah well, there is and adage that “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”.

Additionally, though no one mentions this in court, any case relating to Zuma, especially this one, is a political issue. There was no way the good judge was going to tell Mpofu that he was wasting everyone’s time and his client’s money (I hope Mpofu got a down payment).

Desirous, I am sure, of getting away to dinner and some judicial tea, Judge Mnguni did once or twice venture into trying to elucidate this point or that one with Mpofu. But he quit once he realized that such attempts resulted only in a renewed cascade of verbiage.

And while I’m on about it, perhaps I might mention to Adv. Mpofu – and to the learned justices of the Constitutional Court, who have agreed to hear a “recission” application by Zuma on Tuesday – perhaps I might mention a small legal principle known as Functus Officio? This little gem is defined as “the principle in terms of which decisions of officials are deemed to be final and binding once they are made. They cannot, once made, be revoked by the decision maker”.

As has been written: “Once a court has passed a valid sentence after a lawful hearing, it becomes functus officio and cannot reopen the case.” Such a case can be appealed in another, “higher” court – except we don’t have one higher than the ConCourt.

But let me spend another minute on what I have referred to as Mpofu’s SC politicization of issues. Although this application was “virtual,” we had standing in the High Court a senior counsel, wearing the robes of “a silk” – a supposedly senior, respected, and learned advocate.

And what does this silk, Mpofu SC, say at one point to Judge Mnguni? He suggests to the judge that “another Marikana” looms if Zuma’s warrant of arrest isn’t halted. He said Zuma would be subjected to the “worst imaginable” human rights violation, and this would “go against the wishes of the people”. “Let’s have another Marikana. Or whatever might happen,” Mpofu added.

You with me here? A silk says to a high court judge: “Give me what I want in this court, or you’ll be sanctioning another Marikana”. Why not just say to the judge “Grant what I want, or I’ll kill your family?”

Is this the behaviour of a silk? Is that a legal argument? If it were up to me, I’d report Mpofu to the JSC – firstly, for that “argument,” and, secondly, for bringing me close to the edge of deep anguish and terminal boredom.

Back to the planned rugby tests against the B&I Lions. According to what I’ve read, 12 positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Springbok camp, so the second rugby test between South Africa and Georgia, scheduled for Ellis Park on Friday evening, has been cancelled – as has the game between the Lions and the Bulls, scheduled to be played at Loftus on Saturday. What will happen? We don’t know.

I went today for my second Pfizer jab – not because I think I might be called up to the Springboks but because it really is the right thing to do for oneself and for everyone else. I make such a pedagogical comment with some Politicsweb readers in mind.

Guys, clearly inoculation campaigns have worked well all over the world – I’m talking about halting deaths – and right now we have the Delta variant going wild and researchers have begun talking about the emergence of the Lambda variant in SA; and when doctors start “talking about” variants “of interest”, I expect them here by next week.

Which takes me back to my visit to the jab site this morning. Just three things to report. The first is that the site I went to – Charlotte Maxeke hospital – is the closest I’ve ever been to a super-spreader event. Outside the hall was a large square, bathed in winter sunlight, and empty – while inside we spent our time hopping from chair to chair (home affairs style), cheek by jowl with our elder fellow citizens. Social distancing? Ho ho.

The second point is that walk-ins are now being turned away – medical “officials” have found something to be officious about, which always brightens their lives – no appointment on your cell phone, no injection – and, thirdly, the general air and attitude of the operation was what one might call lentement.

If a country-wide kick-in-the-pants is not instilled in the vaccine roll-out, we’re going to reach the end of the Greek alphabet in terms of variants before we’ve even inoculated half of those who require jabs.

This could well mean that the only thing left to do for those of us who want to watch the B&I Lions playing here is to bring an urgent application against the government, forcing it/them to move its collective tuchis with a great deal more speed and application.

As a way of frightening the government, we might even need to get Mpofu SC to head the legal attack. If that doesn’t scare the powers-that-be, I don’t know what will.