Gavin Foster
Gavin Foster

Driven by necessity? You be the judge

It was interesting to note that at last month’s Judicial Service Commission interviews for the post of KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president, Judge President Chiman Patel chose to grill Judge Isaac Madondo over the fact that he was the only judge in the division to enjoy the services of a dedicated driver.

Judge Madondo responded that he requested a personal driver over two years ago because he suffers from dizzy spells, especially on long trips. Hmmm. I’ll bet high court Judge Nkola Motata wishes he’d known of this option when he first discovered the effect that tea drinking had on his driving (and communication) skills. In the same week The Mercury reported on the interviews it carried a story that, following a decision taken by the KwaZulu-Natal legislature’s rules committee, sick notes written by traditional healers would no longer be accepted as motivation for personal drivers.

“This means that members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) who have been given drivers based on these medical certificates will now have to reapply and again justify why the state should pay for them to be chauffeured,” the article went on to say.

Those who felt they qualified would have to produce medical certificates from registered general practitioners or specialists. Of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature’s 70 MPLs, 22 — that’s almost one in three — currently enjoy the luxury of being chauffeured around by drivers who earn a monthly salary of R14 000 a month. Because they can employ anybody they like for the job, many MPLs hire their husbands, wives or other family members to play chauffeur. That obviously does wonders for the family budget while boosting the ego.

I don’t think we should get bogged down in arguments about nepotism, race, empowerment, arrogance, corruption, egos and discrimination against the sick, lame and lazy or anything else here. Let our politicians and bureaucrats who are physically incapable of safely driving themselves around have a personal driver. The only condition should be that when approval is granted the ailing person’s driver’s licence is immediately cancelled. When the incumbent loses his or her position the driver will, of course, no longer be available at the taxpayers’ expense, and the cancelled licence should be reinstated only after a rigorous medical examination by a state-appointed doctor.

An interesting question, in the meantime, and one that Judge Madondo can possibly answer, is how the courts would view a case where a politician, judge or public servant who had an official driver during office hours because of ill-health drove a car, perhaps over a weekend, and killed somebody in an accident after a blackout.

Even if it was only for a short trip.

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  • Step on the corruption scale
  • The unfinished business of the TRC
  • Listen to immigrant stories
  • The beautiful ones are corrupted
    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Again, your eurocentric blinkers or is it just plain old envy that prevents you from seeing all the other productivity benefits we get from having a highly paid professional like a judge, not subject themselves to the risks and stresses of driving through traffic while they could be unwinding and catching up on work during their commute!

      Maybe you also want these judges to service their own computers, launder their own robes and sweep their own courtrooms and polish their own desks…Many corporate executives take advantage of these perks all over the world because it make economic sense!!!

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      My Grandfather, as Member of Parliament for Malmesbury under Smuts during the war, earned no salary or pension but only refunds of entertainment and travelling costs. Travelling costs were the cost of the daily train ticket from Wellington to Cape Town.

    • Nick Bee

      One wonders.. If they can’t think straight and get dizzy spells, how on earth do they make clear decisions and judgements? Lest of all, let’s not forget the judge that pranged his car in the wee hours in Sandton after a couple of cups of ‘tea’ and the swore at the owner coz he was a whitey..
      Productivety at its best Dave and blatant racialism.

    • Legal Secretary

      As predictable as clockwork – Dave Harris defends the extravagance of the elite, shows his contempt for the poor and the ordinary citizen, and uses silly racist arguments rather than having the energy to construct a logical argument. Boring, vituperative and predictable.

    • manquat

      If more people could afford to do this, it wouldn’t be such a huge issue. The problem is that it’s just an elite. On the positive side, these guys are creating employment. The driver earning R14 000 a month can put food on his family’s table.
      We are a developing country but when we get to developed status, these things will become normal. We should celebrate the fact that we live in a country where it’s within the reach of people to have a driver to drive a BMW or Merc. Let’s not frown on progress

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/gavinfoster Gavin Foster

      I know it’s not good form to respond to critics on a blog, but I get really annoyed when people who patently don’t understand what was written lash out using words like “eurocentric”. Harris is always right and everybody else is a racist.

    • Tofolux

      @Gavin Foster, this is the most unconstitutional and undemocratic argument. Let me admit though that I am not surprised. The point that however needs to be made is that this type of frivolous speculation is nothing but an attack on blacks in general and Africans in particular. WIthout any proper or concrete fact, you call into question the conduct and health of a judge and the judgement and conduct of our judiciary. WIthout any proper or concrete fact you also call into question the diagnosis of the judge’s sickness. The underlying fact however is the calling into question the character and integrity of the judge. It is a perverse argument to say the least. Notwithstanding the fact that YOU failed to give the judge an opportunity to answer to your claim, you choose to disgrace his charater in the public domain. Can I remind you that you are infringing on all his rights, as protected in the constitution. But as I say, I am not surprised when those who never questioned any immoral behaviour of their previous rulers, even in the most horrendous and most disgusting of cases, now assumes the moral highground in our freedom to call into question any person’s character without any concrete proof or fact. What is so perverse is that this general sweeping of character assasination never comes with fact. That is unacceptable. “You judge a person, by how he treats others”. Gavin, I guess this is what we must expect from you.

    • mike venter

      This kind of arrogance from civil servants leaves most people speechless. If this is where our civil servants are now and how this corrupt lot think things should be done then we are on a slippery slope. They obviously feel like pop stars and act like the mafia.

      Gavin ignore Dave “The Drivel” Harris, he is a dillusional, ignorant self lapdog and puppet of the ANC and not to be taken seriously. His rantings and opinions are in the same class as a 5 year old kids.

    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Quit playing the race card Gavin, your condescending “eurocentric” perspective means that you have been indoctrinated by our apartheid Christian National education system that narrows your perspective so you appear self-righteous and unable to see the benefits of having a driver that are quite obvious to others. Even the idea of a drivers job financially sustaining an entire family does not even enter your mind!

    • maggielou

      Thanks Gavin, another example of the blatant abuse of state funds. How can a judge be qualified to do his job when he gets ‘dizzy spells’ or can’t handle the stress that we, the ordinary citizens, have to endure. The ANC is really underestimating our intelligence.

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention – hopefully other media will pick up on this.

    • maggielou

      @manquat – I understand your statement that R14 000 puts food on someone’s table. Would it still be the case if that driver is said member’s spouse, son, daughter or gardener? Same applies to the leeches in parliament where husband AND wife from one household sucks up exorbitant salaries. Two lots of families could be enriched if it were not the case.

    • The Creator

      Quite a good article, but isn’t it a bit of a trivial issue? KZN is a cesspool of corruption, and pointing to a single floater isn’t going to make much difference.

    • The Critical Cynic

      The polarisation & personal attacks continue here in the adult playground!

      Dave Harris – throwing in irrelevant words like eurocentric merely served to undermine a well worded and logical counter to Gavin’s very subjective analysis of the situation. remove the first 5 words of your reponse and see how much better it reads!

      It makes perfect logical and economic sense for highly skilled or highly paid professionals to consider a chauffeur. If you can get your employer to pay for it, why not, wouldn’t you? I’d love to trade my motorcycle commuting for a chauffeur driven experience where I could use the time more productively, wouldn’t you? Only if you are unfit to drive should your licence be withdrawn.

      R14k a month is nothing to the high earners and a decent, not exhorbitant, salary for a driver. Of course, because so little has been done to redress the myriad wage disparities apartheid created, it does still look comparitively high but that’s if you compare it to the ridiculously low salaries far too many are still being paid.

      I would imagine there is a fair amount of economy of scale and logistical advantage having a member of your household fullfil chauffeuring duties. The arguments against nepotism only hold so much water. Most people will consider hiring a member of their family first when they open a small business.

    • The Critical Cynic

      @Tofolux – you hypocrite you, take those beams out of your eyes and stop trampling on other’s rights as you like to term it. You often call into question the character and integrity of people writing comments here on TL and attack their charater in the public domain. Is this what you are refering to when you ask Gavin if you can remind him that he is infringing on all the judges rights, as protected in the constitution? ALL of his rights nogal – really, your sweeping statements undermine your arguments in much the same way as Dave Harris shoots himself in his afrocentric foot. (and to many Harris / Tofolux opponents, that doesn’t mean you don’t suffer a similar habit too). But pray tell us, which rights are you referring to and how exactly is he infringing on them?

      more sweeping and absolute statements about those who never questioned any immoral behaviour of their previous rulers…. now assuming the moral highground…” . How do you know this – do you give the opportunity for redress and when its denied do you believe it or stick to your assumptions?

      As you point out “You judge a person, by how he treats others” – should we do this with you Tofolux based on your attacks on people in this forum, or should we give you a little more benefit of the doubt?

      The best way to win an argument is to avoid it in the first place…

    • Grant

      It’s becoming clear that “Dave Harris” is Mac Maharaj’s online alter ego….

      One day hopefully the blinkered racist that is Mac/Dave will take responsiblity for themselves and their government, although that usually only happens through turmoil and self-examination, which is undoubtably on the horizon.

      FYI Dave/Mac, not all white’s are racist, just as not all blacks are racist. Criticism of what is a blatant misuse of public funds (just as it was a misuse during apartheid) doesn’t make people racist. It simply people who are able to think for themselves looking beyond the vail of government doublespeak.

      You on the otherhand are a classic example of the Goebbels school of propaganda – repeat a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it. Don’t think we aren’t onto you, we’re watching…..unfortunately we watchers are in a minority, thanks to a combination of the apartheid and then the ANC governments keeping the majority uneducated and unable to think for themselves….we’re trying to rectify that and then no spin on the world will be able to save you.

    • Reducto

      Dave Harris, who once accused another blogger of racism for referring to an old lion in an Afghan zoo as an African, telling someone else not to play the race card! Priceless.

    • http://www.xen.co.za Hugh Robinson

      I have a question. These dizzy spells – they impaired his driving ability to the point where he requires a Driver. This suggests they may be quite frequent. How do these impact on his ability to concentrate and perform his duties as judge? Surely it must impair the deep concentration needed.

    • http://www.xen.co.za Hugh Robinson

      @ Grant you can be sure that people like Harris are grateful for freedom of speech. On one hand It shows the maturity of our society that we put up with is inane ratings. On the other we also have a PC brigade that supports such poppycock but never allows others to say it like it is. But then i suppose the real question should be, if Harris were in power would there be the slightest chance that we would have freedom of opinion.

    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      @Hugh Robinson
      May I remind you that our liberation in 1994 gave us “free speech” for the first time since since colonialism, many centuries ago!

      @Grant
      I beg to differ.
      The “Goebbels school of propaganda” began with the old regime that you benefited from, trying to convince the world that apartheid was not really evil and our present media mafia is a relic of that propaganda machine. Remember Helen Zille was a reporter and the Afrikaner Broederbond did not suddenly disappear but merely morphed into legitimate businesses. They now live and work among us.

    • Reducto

      @Harris: “Remember Helen Zille was a reporter”

      Are you going to start repeating your lie about how the apartheid government controlled Zille in exposing what happened to Steve Biko? A lie for which you have absolute zero proof?

      Really, you do belong to the Goebbels school. You repeat lies, over and over, don’t back them up, hoping by repeating them enough they’ll somehow become truth.

    • Grant

      Why don’t you finish the story re: the type of reporter Helen Zille was? You sound like a Verwoed or a Mccarthy brandishing the words “Swaart Gevaar” or “Red Scare” when you use “reporter.”

      She was:
      a member of the Black Sash – you remember the Black Sash, the group if women who would hold lonesome vigils on the side of the road trying to convince white South Africans that Apartheid was immoral? Yes, She was a member.

      an ANTI-apartheid reporter. Which means she reported on government corruption and cover-ups within the apartheid government for which she was persecuted and hounded by said government.

      She has impeccable anti-apartheid credentials but those do not fit into your narrative. Her anti-apartheid fight, while different to that of the ANC’s, was just as real.

      No, the Goebbels school of propaganda actually began with Edward Bernays, Goebbels simply perfected it. The Nats learnt well and you are correct in saying that they used it effectively, especially within SA. That’s what happens when government controls all aspects of media within a state (Hint: that’s why PoSIB is not a good thing). Today however, we have a relatively free media who use the platform to comment on the undeniable abuse of state funds.

      You never engage on the topic of discussion, be it corruption, mismanagement, etc. You strategy is simply to accuse any commentator with a European name of being racist. Let’s have an engagement of the facts outside the ANC bubble shall we?

    • ConCision

      “In life, only two things are certain:
      And that is Death and Tax”
      On Thought Leader
      It’s Dave Harris and Tofux
      And their unending racist attacks.

    • manquat

      @maggielou To quote from the above article, “many MPLs hire their husbands, wives or other family members to play chauffeur. That obviously does wonders for the family budget while boosting the ego. ” Mr. Foster didn’t use stats to back up his facts so what do the stats say? To say many MPLs hire their husbands etc just suits his argument, however there are no stats to prove that this is true. So those that don’t form part of the ‘many’ are helping their famiies so we shouldn’t frown at situations in which employment is being created.

    • Marianne de Leuca

      @ Grant

      Besides being a member of Black Sash, in the 1980’s Helen Zille also gave shelter in her family home to black anti-apartheid activists who were hiding from the apartheid security police, for which she received death threats and had to go into hiding herself. One of the people she gave shelter to was a woman by the name of Dorothy Mfaco, who was a member of the United Women’s Organisation. Dorothy Mfaco was arrested on her way to a women’s conference in Zimbabwe, and was detained and tortured at the Ravensmead Police Station.

      Helen Zille resigned from the Rand Daily Mail (the newspaper which carried her report exposing the truth of how Steve Biko died) after they fired then editor Allister Sparks, and asked her to tone down her anti-apartheid rhetoric. After her resignation as a journalist she became more active in the Black Sash organisation (she served on the regional and national executives) and the End Conscription Campaign.

      How can Helen Zille prove that she is not a racist? Not by words, but by her deeds.

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/gavinfoster Gavin Foster

      Mark Twain must have been thinking about people like Mr Harris when he said “You cannot depend upon your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

      How about a short CV, Mr Harris? Where exactly have you been up to now and what have you done that’s worthwhile? What do you owe the ANC that causes you to lash out blindly and unthinkingly at the slightest hint of criticism?

    • Tofolux

      @Grant, try as you might, you just cannot create ”struggle” credentials for any person. This is evidenced by you insisting that someone must remember her as a member of Black Sash. If she was a member and not a mere employee it certainly makes the point that her contribution was so insignificant, so forgetful because no one seems to remember her. That is quite ironic because you forget that someone, somewhere would remember a contribution, however small. But for the Madam, no person can recollect where and what she contributed to our fight freedom.

    • Tofolux

      @Gavin, it is a fundamental weakness when all you can do in reply when confronted with a rebutt or an alternative view is to resort to an unwarranted if not weak, knee jerk retort that adds no value to the debate that YOU have put. What this weakness clearly indicates is that you have nothing else to offer, no additions to be made or clarity to be given. How is it that this narrow view cannot firstly be contested and interrogated? At least show some humility and concede that your views are fallacious!

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/gavinfoster Gavin Foster

      @ Manquat and others

      Firstly, the quote about “many people” hiring family members comes from the Rules Committee spokeman who announced that sangomas will not be allowed to in future give MPCs dodgy medical certficates allowing them to defraud the state and possibly enrich families and friends. Secondly, are you saying that as long as money creates employment it doesn’t matter if it’s plundered from the taxpayer? All of these people are well paid. If they need a driver they can pay for their own. The state graciously – and too generously, in fact – allows them to hire a driver at our expense but only if they have been declared medically unfit to drive. In that case, their own licences should be forfeited. And if they aren’t unfit to drive they’re stealing (more) of our money.

    • Grant

      @Tofolux,
      Willfull ignorance in this age of information is reprehensible…

      I don’t have to try to create anything, a tiny bit of research will reveal all.

      Here’s a link re: the Black Sash and Helen Zille. We could probably track down many Black Sash members who attended that conference to confirm her presence and ask what it was she spoke on, but again , that wouldn’t fit into your narrative would it?

      http://srvrhldig001.uct.ac.za/R/?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=8247&local_base=GEN01

      I guess it wasn’t her that exposed the death of Steve Biko in detention? Multiple media sources have reported, since his death, that her efforts, along with Donald Woods, resulted in the truth re: his death being exposed, to the detriment of the apartheid government.

      It’s getting rather boring rebutting you with fact after fact, it’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. back your stance with a real argument and then we can debate. Until then, wake me up when you’ve refilled the barrel…

    • Partial Observer

      @ Tofolux

      I am not a DA supporter, although I am frequently a critic of the ANC. Usually I stay away from replying to the crazier or more predictable posters on this sight, but in this case, I have to ask – how dare you?

      We remember all the anti-apartheid activists, ANC or not, and history is not yours to re-write. On Helen Zille’s “struggle credentials”, I’ll post a few links below to start you off if you want to be educated. Trust me, Biko’s friends and family have not forgotten Zille. Nor have any of the activists she sheltered, at the risk of her own life and her 2-year-old daughter’s. That was what she was doing during apartheid. What were you up to?

      Just because someone is currently an opponent of the ANC, doesn’t mean you get to airbrush their history. Here are a few other non-ANC activists you might want to read up on: Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Mamphela Ramphele, Desmod Tutu, Helen Suzman, Harry Schwarz… Oh, the list is so long you can just google “anti-apartheid activists” or get a good history book and start reading.

      In the meantime:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/the-death-of-anti-apartheid-activist-steve-biko-audio/11541.html
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Zille
      http://www.mpiweb.org/Magazine/Archive/US/June2009/OnePersonOneCountryOneStory

    • Tofolux

      @Grant, Firing blank bullets as per usual. But allow me to let you in on a joke, you can find ANYTHING on the internet. Anything…so if you think that you are going to throw fiction instead of fact then so be it. I take it that you believe that the cow did indeed jump over the moon?

    • Max

      @tolofux:
      More willful blindness from you.
      Fascinating to watch how you sabotage yourself time and again.

    • Grant

      That’s why I posted a link to something contained in a physical archive…

    • Grant

      You’re making this too easy Tolofux, it’s like clubbing seals. On your next post, challenge me…

    • Charlotte

      ‘Freedom of speech’ means ‘freedom of speech.’
      ‘Misinformation, lies and racism’ means ‘misinformation, lies and racism.’
      They are not the same thing. Dave Harris and Tofux should take note.

    • Len

      After all this time, I still do not understand people who respond to @Dave Harris – I simply skip his contributions every time.

    • David

      @ Tofolux,it is a fundamental weakness when all you can do in reply when confronted with a rebutt or an alternative view is to resort to an unwarranted if not weak, knee jerk retort that adds no value to the debate that YOU have put. What this weakness clearly indicates is that you have nothing else to offer, no additions to be made or clarity to be given. How is it that this narrow view cannot firstly be contested and interrogated? At least show some humility and concede that your views are fallacious!

      I couldn’t resist…..

    • Tofolux

      @Grant & Max, cmon guys be constructive. Instead of posting links with second-hand information and a concoction of a supposed history. Show me in real terms this struggle history that you so boldly throw, the operative word being struggle. I think you should be reminded that struggle credentials, o clever ones, is not an event, it is an ongoing passion to fight for right. It is an ongoing contribution of service to justice. It is there based on the oral account of all of those around you who can testify to your presence, your act etc, It cannot be that you work for these organisations, do you job and earn a salary for that job and then declare this is ”struggle”. In fact its insulting to any activist or any campaigner that you throw this insignificance as credentials. But noting that you are saying this, pray tell, WHAT ideology was she subscribing to during this period of apartheid?

    • Grant

      Finally, a decent response, why did it take you so many posts to get there?

      You’ve at least partially answered your own question above – “it is an ongoing passion to fight for right.” Are you implying that by simply being white, whites could not have fought against apartheid because they were white and were benefitting from apartheid?

      Btw, you cancelled yourself out by posting this “…second-hand information…” and then this “…based on the oral account of all of those around you who can testify to your presence…” It’s either/or but not both.

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/gavinfoster Gavin Foster

      I really believe that the combative but illogical postings of the two radical racists who’ve been sniping (badly) on this blog all week demonstrate perfectly the yawning chasm that lies between education and intelligence.

      Now let’s wait for the typical wise-arse response that would do justice to a dull-witted, nine-year-old in a bad mood after hearing that nobody really wants to play with him.

    • Grant

      @Len,
      My opinion is that as more South Africans are educated, they’ll find their way to sites such as this. If the likes of Harris and Tolofux are left unchallenged, new readers will have an element of doubt that shades their perception of whatever the issue is.

      Rebutting the likes of the said two is not difficult and takes little effort. If anything it simply gives them a longer rope to hang themselves with and shines the light on their inability to formulate an argument. In short, you give them the platform to invalidate their own opinion in a very public way.

      The trick is to let Tolofux do it to themselves as he/she has above and then know when to exit so as not get sucked into their vortex of illogicality. As the Fool’s Law says, Never argue with a fool – they will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      @Grant and Gavin Foster and Charlotte
      Rather than insulting commentators how about getting back to the ludicrous subject of this blog, hey???
      For some judges to have drivers makes sense economically (productivity), socially (decent job) and also from a security standpoint (safety of judges and basic road safety)? Even “The Critical Cynic”, of all people, largely agrees with this viewpoint.
      And oh, calling others racists while you lot continue to enjoy the fruits of apartheid and centuries of colonialism, is a bit weird, don’t you think? LOL

    • Charlotte

      Dave, you are seriously boring.
      (Like the man said: ‘Boring in the extreme; and not only in the extreme, but all over.)
      It’s the weekend, man. It’s Spring. Go out get a breath of fresh air.