Pius Langa: an ex­am­ple to all

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

SOUTH Africa is fast los­ing a gen­er­a­tion of men and women pos­sessed of stead­fast prin­ci­ples and moral courage. One such was Pius Langa, the for­mer Chief Jus­tice, who died this week at the age of 74.

His list of achieve­ments is im­mense, hav­ing started out humbly in a shirt fac­tory be­fore be­com­ing a messenger at a mag­is­trate’s court, as­cend­ing to the high­est court and fi­nally, the high­est ju­di­cial po­si­tion in the land, un­til his re­tire­ment in 2009.

As his for­mer col­league, deputy chief jus­tice Dik- gang Moseneke, has said: “He was a re­mark­able ju­rist. He penned judg­ments well worth cel­e­brat­ing.”

But more than that, Langa was a “re­mark­able man… a qui­etly thoughtful per­son with an am­ple store of com­pas­sion and in­ner peace”.

His hu­man­ity car­ried over into his work. As Moseneke pointed out: “He un­der­stood that a judge must strive to reach a just out­come and to ac­count to the peo­ple for it. He took se­ri­ously the prom­ise of our Con­sti­tu­tion for a bet­ter life and used it to shield or en­rich the lives of its in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries – we the peo­ple.”

Cho­sen by for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela as one of the 11 judges to serve on the first Con­stitu- tional Court, Langa was fiercely pro­tec­tive of the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary and pub­licly stated that it should not be be­holden to any­body. He would have been pained in re­cent years at the call for po­lit­i­cal over­sight over the ju­di­ciary he loved and served so dili­gently.

Our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem – of which the courts form a cru­cial pil­lar – is faced with a cri­sis of cred­i­bil­ity, shaken by up­heaval brought on by a se­ries of in­ap­pro­pri­ate and dis­as­trous ap­point­ments amid po­lit­i­cal in­trigues. The tur­moil has tar­nished the im­age of the le­gal sys­tem in the eyes of the pub­lic . The legacy of Langa stands. The chal­lenge is for our ju­rists and politi­cians to live up to his ster­ling con­tri­bu­tion to build­ing our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.