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Over the last fortnight, the media in South Africa has been filled with particularly terrible crimes involving gender-based violence. In one response, an enormous crowd of women and men, dressed in black, protested outside the parliament buildings, demanding they be addressed by the President. Many were urging that a state of emergency be declared because of on-going femicide and rape. But the problem is endemic in the whole SADC region. And occasionally even the courts are moved to speak strongly on the issue. In one recent decision from Eswatini, for example, the judge hearing the matter spoke out more strongly than is usually the case against gender-based violence - and the need for a miracle to end it.
When Botswana’s Court of Appeal delivered its recent decision on 709 people from Caprivi, living in the Dukwi refugee camp, the judgment came as a serious blow to the hopes of the refugees. It has also raised questions by the refugees and their supporters, local and international, about whether the court was correct in its approach. Less theoretically, the refugees are deeply concerned about the dangers that they believe await them once they are returned to Caprivi, something that now seems inevitable - as well as the impact on their children's education.
Controversial former top Seychelles judge, Durai Karunakaran, has done it again. The disgraced jurist, embroiled in yet another legal dispute relating to his behaviour, has lost his appeal against a contempt of court finding. The contempt relates to a highly offensive insult he whispered into the ear of the public prosecutor during proceedings related to another matter involving the former judge. Karunakaran quit the bench earlier this year to avoid being impeached over misbehaviour, but judgments in pending cases involving him had not yet all been finalised.
Two significant amendments to the Uniform Rules of Court that were published on 31 May 2019 have come into operation on 1 July 2019. The amendments to the procedure of applying for summary judgment in terms of Rule 32, and the introduction of Rule 37A regarding judicial case management respectively are likely to affect all attorneys frequenting the High Courts of South Africa.