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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970

The Minister Decides

The Minister Decides

In accordance with the Rule of Law and accepted by the legal profession, it is an accepted practice that the profession itself determines who shall be admitted to it and remain practising in it As a result of the powers taken by the Minister of Justice, he alone decides whether certain persons whom he considers undesirable shall be members of the legal profession. If he acts against a professional man, the Court has no discretion in the matter (Section 4 quat of the Suppression of Communism Act, as amended by Section 2 of Act 24.of 1967). When moving the Bill in Parliament, the Minister stated that whereas the General Bar Council was divided on the issue, he had not received a single objection from any Law Society representing Attorneys. Protests made by the Johannesburg Cape and Natal Bars resulted in the joint statement declaring:

"We consider it to be in the public interest that decisions as to the fitness to practice the legal profession should be left to the Courts, and not the unchallengeable decision of the Minister or any other person however bona fide they may be. We believe that the effect of the Bill may be to inhibit the proper performance by members of the legal profession of their duty fearlessly to present the the interest of their client no matter how unpopular their clients cause and no matter how powerful or influential the opposition may be."

(House of Assembly, Vol. 15 June 12th, 1965

The effect in South Africa is that persons who were member, or active supporter, of the Communist Party, the A.N.C.. the P.A.C the Congress of Democrats, the Defence and Aid Fund and any other organization that may be decleared unlawfull at any time in the future, may in the discreation of the Minister be barred from practice and the Court has no right to interfere and no discretion at all.

Lawyers in South Africa are inhibited. They are reluctant to show too much enthusiasm in acting for clients whose causes are, unpopular. In South Africa we have not resorted to the procedure in Nazi Germany of appointing lawyers approved of by party officials only. Nevertheless, the inroads here are serious. Lawyers have been banned without charge, compelled to leave the country, or compelled to leave their profession. Some Lawyer, have had their passports removed and have had restriction, placed on them. These page break intimidatory measures have been successful and fear has been installed in the minds of professional men who have now been inhibited from pursuing unpopular causes on behalf of their clients. They certainly have been affected by the powers of the opposition which they face.