WINNING AT ALL COSTS TOO COSTLY S v Rozani; Rozani v Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape 2009 1 SACR 540 (C)


  • Suhayfa Bhamjee



justice is served, basic tenets of justice, meet fee targets, chalk up wins


The role of the public prosecutor is one to be respected. Members of society expect to enjoy lives free of violence, theft and other criminal violation; in return, they surrender the exercise of “vengeance” and vigilantism to the state. The public prosecutor (inter alia) is entrusted with the duty of ensuring that justice is served in bringing transgressors to book. The public prosecutor thus has the onerous task of ensuring that the rights of victims are served and given a voice, but at the same time doing so in a manner which upholds the basic tenets of a free, fair and just society. The duty and role of the defence attorney (state appointed or otherwise) is
much the same. He or she is expected also to serve justice by giving his or her client (paying or pro bono) the best service and defence he or she is capable of. Obviously, this does not mean conjuring up or “manifesting” a defence. But he or she must, at the very least, prevent his or her client from pleading guilty to an offence where one was not committed. The recent decision in Rozani (2009 1 SACR 540 (C)) makes it evident that the fulfilment of such goals and ideals is not easy. The legal profession has gained a rather dubious reputation, attracting epithets such as “con-artist”, “shyster”, “opportunist” and “shark”, amongst others. The perception that individuals join the profession only to make a “quick buck” has stuck and the case at hand certainly seems to show this, reflecting not only a callous disregard for justice, but also what is blatant incompetence on the part of both the prosecutor and the defence attorney. Reading the facts of the matter, one wonders about the general standard of lawyers entering the profession – one cannot but marvel at the farcical aspect of the facts in Rozani. The main objective of practitioners within a criminal justice system should not be to win at all costs, but rather to ensure that justice is served. The facts leading up to the review in Rozani reflect the prosecutor’s need to chalk up wins and the defence attorney’s need to meet fee targets at whatever cost. The decision and remarks from the bench form a sobering commentary on the state of the criminal courts and the pursuit of justice in South Africa. While the level of crime in this country bolsters the need to convict criminals, this provides no excuse for disregarding the basic tenets of justice.


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How to Cite

Suhayfa Bhamjee. (2021). WINNING AT ALL COSTS TOO COSTLY S v Rozani; Rozani v Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape 2009 1 SACR 540 (C). Obiter, 31(3).




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