Campus Life

Roux puts it to Witsies



Barry Roux said the biggest problem facing the law in South Africa is the lack of certainty in the criminal justice system by citizens.

Roux, hosted by the Black Lawyers Association (BLA), spoke to Witsies this afternoon about the legal system in this country. He said people commit crime because there is a fair chance they will not be caught, and if they are caught there is a chance they will not appear before the court or they will be acquitted.

“If there is no certainty, there is no control” said Roux. He further quoted the cliché that “justice delayed, is justice denied” saying when a criminal case is postponed four to five times, a lot happens in the natural system of life.

Policemen resign, investigating officers die and a witness who’s attended court four to five times without giving a testimony probably will not come back the sixth time. Or the witness may no longer remember the facts, said Roux.

Roux said to Witsies: “I wonder when I look at you, what’s going to happen to our justice system… You can all study, pass, become lawyers but you need to have the burn.”

He posed a question to Witsies of how they were going to get it right in fixing the justice system. “I’m very happy to give up my profession tomorrow, if I knew there’d be no crime,” said Roux.

He described the “tardiness” he has witnessed in the criminal justice system. He said it is important for young lawyers to know that “maybe it’s not all about me, what can I do to fix the justice system and not from the sides.”

A law student asked Roux what factors influence his decision to take on a matter and he responded: “Empty pockets!”  . He added that it is never about him, “who are you to decide a case is small?”

Wits Vuvuzela asked Roux that is the one thing the criminal justice system got right 20 years ago that is missing today and he responded that he would like to see “a better cohesion” between the investigating officers and prosecuting officers.


By Thabile Manala