June 4th 2012 will see a protest march near the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. A non-profit organisation called The New Economic Rights Alliance (www.newera.org.za) will present a petition to the Judiciary calling for an enquiry into the handling of insolvency claims against local farmers and other property owners.
The NewERA believes that properties are being taken away unfairly. They believe that lawyers are seeking to satisfy their own pockets at the expense of the nation’s food security. And, by rigorously enforcing strict and complicated administration procedures at the expense the Common Law, the Courts are making the situation worse.
“We have received many complaints from our Members who are very angry.” says NewERA Chairman Scott Cundill.
“They say that legal action provides no benefit to anyone except lawyers.”
Although not just about farmers, they are an important reason for the march.
“Farmers are the bread and butter of this nation. Of all the courts in the country, the Pietermaritzburg High Court should be the most sensitive to their needs. And so should the banks.”
With the ANC set to push through legislation to regulate lawyers’ fees, it seems that change is afoot within the judicial system.
The march will begin at 12pm on Monday, June 4th in Freedom Square opposite the Pietermaritzburg High Court. They will walk along Church Street and address the crowd outside the offices of a local law firm who is attempting to sequestrate and remove a sustainable community from their land. They will then present that law firm with a petition. From there they will turn into Timber Street and return along Langalibalele Street after presenting the petition to the Kwazulu-Natal Legislature on that same road. The march will only last about an hour and a half and 50-100 are expected to attend.
“This is a low key event. It is just a first step to let farmers and property owners know that they are not alone” says Shirree Leone of the NewERA.
“We also wish to generate awareness for a Constitutional Court case that could help free millions of South Africans from debt slavery.”
The action she is referring to is Tellinger vs. Standard Bank (CCT 28/12) in which Standard Bank, the South African Reserve Bank and the Minister of Finance are being brought before the Constitutional Court by Michael Tellinger. The argument is lengthy (you can read a summary at www.thebigcase.co.za), but it would seem that, like the judicial system, the banks are well and truly under fire. The sentiment echoes the voice of the international Occupy Wall Street movement which continues to call for transparency and the weeding out of corruption in the banking and legal system.
June 4th also happens to be the anniversary of the famous Tiananmen Square protest in China in 1989. Who could forget that famous photo of a young man standing up to a tank, refusing to move. Perhaps it is time a few unrelenting farmers and citizens stood together to ensure that fairness returns to our legal and banking system.