ANC national executive committee member Andile Lungisa believes that South African judges are largely unpatriotic and reactionary because they lack political education.
His suggested remedy for this issue is that those who want to work on the bench should first train as soldiers in order to develop their sense of patriotism.
Speaking to Sunday World Engage, Lungisa discussed a variety of topics, one of which was the judiciary, which he feels has since gone awry.
Lungisa claimed that the nation has erroneously assumed that black judges are inherently supportive of transformation.
However, it is these judges who are impeding the ANC government’s efforts to reform the state, particularly the judiciary arm of the state, he said.
Lungisa has had run-ins with the law before.
In the past, while serving as an ANC councillor in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality, he was accused of assaulting a colleague and found guilty.
Given that he was a first-time offender, he feels that his brief prison sentence for his crime should never have occurred.
He asserted that former president Jacob Zuma’s 2021 imprisonment for refusing to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture was yet another instance of injustice by a reactionary judiciary.
Lungisa argued that it was improper for the apex court to turn a civil case into a criminal matter without first allowing Zuma to appear before lower courts, as is customary.
He believed that because of the false perception that they were above reproach, South African men and women in robes were getting away with a lot.
“We had to stand for president Zuma at that time ; there was no way that we could fold our arms,” he said.
No one is neutral in divided society
“He was wrongly arrested; you cannot just think the Constitutional Court has the same status as Jesus Christ or Mohammed.
“They are courts and a part of the state, and the existence of the ANC is to transform the state, including the courts.
“Our struggle is not about the colour, but South Africans think that because a person is a black judge, automatically that person will be progressive.
“We think judges are neutral when they sit and read newspapers, eat supper at restaurants, are on Twitter and Facebook, and have family members who have opinions.
“No one is neutral in a divided society. We need patriotic judges who must be taken to the army, trained, and understand national service and the national flag.”
Miscarriage in our justice system
Lungisa claimed that spending time in prison brought into sharp focus the “injustice” that court-presiding officers who lack political and social understanding were perpetuating.
Among his inmates were young people, some of whom had committed petty crimes for the first time but were sentenced to prison terms.
“There is a miscarriage in our justice system. In prison, I saw firsthand the injustices committed against Africans.
“I had to interact with young kids who stole things like chairs. When I came out, I made it my mission to fight for them.”
The full interview will premiere this Sunday on the Sunday World YouTube channel.