Alec Hogg praises our heritage, SA’s Constitution

Alec Hogg takes us through the essence of one of South Africa’s most beautiful points of pride – our Constitution, reminding us why our nation is so special, and why it is important to keep positive in spite of the challenges we face. We have all the tools for greatness and given the right focus, commitment and perseverance will learn from the growing pains that we seem to be experiencing at the moment. – Lucienne Ferreira 

Good morning. I’m Alec Hogg and here is the Rational Perspective.

Well, I’m returning to a theme that I’ve been banging on a little about recently – the South African Constitution. Not because I feel that it needs to be re-emphasised, but because last night we went along to an event at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg hosted by this best person who could do this anywhere in the world – Judge Albie Sachs. One of the original Constitutional Court judges when it started after democracy, arrived in South Africa in 1994. It was a most fascinating tour where he led us into the thoughts about how the Court had been put together. He explained to us why there was such debate on capital punishment and why it couldn’t be thrashed out ahead during negotiations – ahead of the election in 1994.

However, a few things really stayed with me. The architecture of South Africa’s Constitutional Court has been specifically done in such a way as to make everybody welcome – very different to the way that the U.S. have set up their Constitutional Court or indeed, Old Bailey in London. Albie Sachs says that is because our Constitution in South Africa is there to protect everybody. This is a non-racial, non-sexist society where the rights of each individual is respected – something that we in South Africa, forget. The other thing that we forget is that whereas the U.K. courts and the U.S. In particular, impose power or give you a feeling of great power, the Constitutional Court in South Africa is one, which does the exact opposite. That is because it is positioned to hold back those who are in powerful positions to ensure that they do not (a) abuse their power or (b) use it excessively.

If you consider the final point about the Constitutional Court – it’s site. It’s on the old fort in Johannesburg, the site of the infamous Number Four Prison where black Africans were interred. The site is the only place in the world where Nelson Mandela and Gandhi have both been kept in jail. It is a historic sight. It could have been sited pretty much anywhere else in South Africa, but this was the one that was selected and it was a real privilege to go along there. If you’re a South African and you’ve come to Johannesburg, make sure that you visit it next time around. It’s part of your heritage.

This is the Rational Perspective. I’m Alec Hogg.

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