Jus­tice may seem blind, but it’s also cock­eyed

CityPress - - Business & Tenders - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an advertising agency

All nights bring dark­ness, but not all nights are the same, and the in­abil­ity to dis­cern be­tween the two has led many to be caught up on the blind side of hope.

Last Satur­day, the former pres­i­dent of Brazil, Luiz Iná­cio Lula da Silva, started serv­ing his 12-year prison sen­tence.

Many ap­plauded and in­voked the word “ac­count­abil­ity” as if it is the magic word that ends all evil.

Half a world away, South Korea’s former pres­i­dent, Park Geun-hye, was sen­tenced to dou­ble Lula’s term.

Un­for­tu­nately, the nu­ances that are the build­ing blocks of the truth are lost in the eu­pho­ria.

Park’s sen­tenc­ing is about scape­goat­ing, trick-or-treat­ing the masses with mob jus­tice while the cul­prits con­tinue with the shadi­ness that keeps them in busi­ness.

Park was con­victed of col­lect­ing or de­mand­ing $22 mil­lion (R264 mil­lion) from the chae­bol, in­clud­ing Sam­sung, and forc­ing more into do­nat­ing over $70 mil­lion to foun­da­tions con­trolled by her friend.

South Korea is a West­ern demo­cratic coun­try, at least on pa­per, but it is gov­erned by chae­bols, or a hand­ful of fam­ily-con­trolled con­glom­er­ates.

Park was felled by pop­u­lar up­ris­ing and was im­peached. The nu­ance ev­ery­one ig­nores is that the peo­ple shouted on the streets that the chae­bol are ac­com­plices.

In the real world, the cor­po­ra­tions are the real crim­i­nals and the politi­cians are ac­com­plices. The lat­ter come and go while the chae­bol lies in wait to in­gest the next politi­cian.

Root­ing out cor­rup­tion in South Korea is a lot more than ex­tract­ing a rot­ten tooth. It is closer to up­root­ing the only tree that pre­vents soil ero­sion.

The politi­cians gave Korean con­glom­er­ates tax breaks, which al­lowed them to grow in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

In re­turn, the politi­cians turned the chae­bol into their per­sonal ATMs.

Lula’s case is the text­book ex­am­ple of the ques­tion posed by the Ro­man poet Ju­ve­nal: Quis cus­todiet ip­sos cus­todes? trans­lated as who will guard the guards them­selves?

In­deed, who will guard the ju­di­ciary and make sure the peo­ple are pro­tected from boys’ club jus­tice and the set­tling of old-school-tie scores?

In the­ory, jus­tice is blind, but those who lived through apartheid have learnt from ex­pe­ri­ence that jus­tice can be both crooked and cock­eyed.

This is be­cause the judges are not raised in a clin­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory free from all hu­man vices.

In­stead, they are raised with the pref­er­ences and prej­u­dices of their time.

Da Silva was con­victed as a way of re­mov­ing him from the na­tional elec­tions he is poised to win.

He is the lead­ing can­di­date in the opin­ion polls for the elec­tions sched­uled for Oc­to­ber. He was forced to hand him­self over to po­lice to start serv­ing jail time while the ap­peal is un­der way and be­fore all the av­enues of jus­tice are ex­hausted.

If the higher court even­tu­ally finds him not guilty, how will the court re­store his time lost be­hind bars? How will it re­pay the peo­ple of Brazil for deny­ing them their demo­cratic choice?

Let’s go back to the abor­tion of jus­tice.

Da Silva, his wife Marisa and Leo Pin­heiro, the former pres­i­dent of Brazil­ian con­glom­er­ate OAS, were charged with cor­rup­tion.

The former pres­i­den­tial cou­ple were ac­cused of ask­ing for an apart­ment along with some “im­prove­ments”, to the tune of about $1 mil­lion.

Judge Ser­gio Moro put Pin­heiro in tem­po­rary cus­tody for two years while the Da Sil­vas re­mained out­side. Marisa died dur­ing the process and Pin­heiro turned state wit­ness.

The state couldn’t pro­vide any ev­i­dence beyond Pin­heiro’s word.

Hope­fully, the peo­ple of Brazil will an­swer Ju­ve­nal and prove that the peo­ple will guard the guards.

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