On the 26th of October in 2023, the Department of Politics and International Relations hosted a book discussion on Dan Mafora’s new volume titled Capture in the Court: In Defence of Judges and the Constitution. Published in October 2023 by Tafelberg, the text is available at Exclusive Books, which is already a number one bestseller.
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC says about the work: “This book matters,” because, as he says in the foreword, “It reminds us that the struggle for constitutionalism was worth it. Yet existential threats remain.” and that “While in global terms, South Africa was among the last to achieve freedom and with it constitutionally guaranteed rights, deepening these rights rather than eroding them is intrinsically connected to the function of promoting democracy.”
Prof Bhaso Ndzendze, head of the department, was the discussant and the session was facilitated by Mmakoena Mpshane-Nkosi, a PhD candidate in the department as well as a staff member in the Faculty of Law’s Dean’s Office. In his opening remarks, Mafora highlighted some aspects of his book, including the history of the African National Congress’ relationship with constitutionalism, the emergence of populism rallying against the Constitution, and excessive litigation in South African politics.
On the latter point, “They [politicians] are running to the courts instead of using the political process, because a court’s judgment is final. This is attractive but dangerous for the country because it politicises the judiciary.” “This is not to say that politicians should not access the courts,” he said, “But they should do so on genuine questions of law and the constitution, not to fight partisan political battles.”
In his discussion, Ndzendze declared that the book is an excellent contribution and that every time one sits and re-reads it, there are many things that one picks up anew. Delving into deep theoretical arguments and simultaneously being grounded in case law, the book should be compulsory reading for every citizen, he said.