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De Jure Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 2225-7160
Print version ISSN 1466-3597


NTLAMA, Nomthandazo. Gender-based violence ignites the re-emergence of public opinion on the exercise of judicial authority. De Jure (Pretoria) [online]. 2020, vol.53, pp.286-306. ISSN 2225-7160.

South Africa is highly celebrated for its commitment to the promotion of human rights. This has also fostered "rights consciousness" among the citizenry which has become of essence for the advancement of the rights of women who had long been in the "legal cold". However, the significance of the "rights concepts" is marred by the extreme levels of gender-based violence against women. The effect of crimes suffered by women raises questions about South Africa's post-apartheid system of governance and the promotion of the rule of law, which is founded on human rights. With South Africa's history, it is assumed that law has the potential to transform societies in ensuring the fulfilment of rights as envisaged in many national, regional and international instruments. Against this background, this paper focuses on the recent shocking wave of the extreme levels of gender-based violence against women experienced in South Africa with the resultant consequence of the agitation of the public on the independence of the judiciary. Whilst it acknowledges the limitations of the law and the challenges faced by women, it argues against public opinion that seem to wither the democratic character of the state relating to the functioning of the judiciary. It also argues that public opinion waters down the assumption about the capacity of the law in generating social change. In addition, the confidence in the judiciary cannot be replaced by invidious philosophies that appear to compromise the independence of the judiciary as envisaged in the doctrine of separation of powers. The argument advanced herein is limited to the rationality of the calls by further raising a question whether safeguarding independence and impartiality of the judiciary should be outweighed by public outrage on gender-based violence. It also does not profess to provide an expert analysis of the interrelationship between law and social change because of the complexities that exists between these areas. Overall, the paper acknowledges and shares the concerns by the public on the elimination of gender-based violence; however, it refuses the indirect consequence of public opinion on the trampling of judicial authority.

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