By Andile Nsibande | 2021-09-15
High Court - SIGHS of disapointment broke a deafening silence that enveloped the courtroom after Judge Mumcy Dlamini issued her brief judgment yesterday. Judge Dlamini turned down the second bail application by the two incarcerated Members of Parliament Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube for the second time, in a short-lived address of the court that lasted more or less 30 seconds.
It was a very brief and yet surprising ruling by the learned judge, who had kept everyone waiting for almost two hours, while anticipating her decision on whether to entertain the bail application or not.
But much against everyone else’s expectation, the judge went straight to the bail application. Astonishingly, the bail application had not been argued by the litigants when the learned judge delivered a judgment rightaway.
The only thing that had been addresed by the lawyers was the principle of functus officio, which raised the question over whether the judge was entitled to hear the bail application because she had previously issued a ruling on an earlier and similar action.
So, yesterday morning the parties, and even the supporters of the MPs, were expecting a decision by the judge on whether she was proceeding with the bail application or not.
Everyone had to exercise a bit of patience as the judge took longer before entering the courtroom. Despite being known for her punctuality in matters before her, the case of the two MPs has always been an exception.
She had previously delayed by an hour or so, which happened to be the case even yesterday, where everyone was kept waiting for almost two hours. The hearing had been scheduled to start at 9am, but the judge eventually showed up at exactly 10:34am. All eyes were on the judge as she proceeded to take her seat. Then she spent a few seconds going through her paperwork, before finally breaking her silence, to say: “Good morning Counsel, this is my ruling; bail application is dismissed and no order as to costs.”
That was it.
It was a very brief address lasting for about 30 seconds, but it hit everyone like a bolt of lightning. The immediate reaction was an earsplitting silence, which was followed shortly by sighs of disapointment.
Then many people started looking around the courtroom, either to ascertain if the judgment had the same effect on everyone or to cross-check with others if they heard the learned judge very well – a momentary confusion engulfed the entire courtroom.
Everybody appeared shocked, and the bolt of lightning which came down in the form of the few words uttered by the judge shook some out of their seats, causing them to stand up with their mouths open wide agape.
Others even went to the extent of carrying their hands over their heads, in obvious astonishment. “Jesus Christ!” exclaimed the leader of the incarcerated parliamentarians’ legal team, South African Advocate Koos van Vuuren. “What’s the meaning of this? This is ridiculous.
I thought we had come to hear her on the issue of functus officio,” remarked the legal eagle, who was visibly short of words to express his disapointment. Approached shortly after his reaction, the senior legal practitioner said: “Oh, what else can I say. It is eidiculous and unheard of. We are disappointed.
This is contrary to all features of justice; it’s a travesty of justice. I can’t explain it any better than that.” Advocate van Vuuren said what was more disapointing was that the judge never gave them an opportunity to be heard on the bail application.
“I came here prepared to argue, but nothing,” he said, while throwing his hands in the air, in a gesture displaying his utter shock and disbelief.
The judgment got the legal team riled up, with each member moving from one point to the other around the courtroom, which was still packed by equally disapointed supporters of the two MPs.
The team which comprised a total of five members yesterday was busy consulting with each other, and also touching base with their clients.
A common thread that ran through their heads as they moved around the courtroom was the issue of exploring another remedy.
Eventually it appeared that they were in agreement over the next move, as the visibly upset Advocate van Vuuren hinted during the interview with this publication.
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