OC welcomes court ruling

The Ombudsman Commission has welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court on two important constitutional issues in prosecuting leaders under the Leadership Code.

Chief Ombudsman Michael Dick said the decision reiterates its position as an institution that will protect the constitution and promote good governance.

The reference was purposely to look at the constitutionality of the 2006 amendments to section 27(4) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership, relating to changes in the rules of evidence in a leadership tribunal.  

Following a decision on 22 December last year, the leadership tribunal will no longer follow strict rules of evidence in determining the truth of allegations against Members of Parliament and departmental heads.

The five-man Supreme Court bench by majority were of the view that amendments were invalid, ineffective and unconstitutional, thus strict rules of evidence cannot be applied in leadership tribunal inquiries.

The reference also looked at another issue on the question of when suspension of a leader should take place when the leader is referred.

The court ruled that suspension takes effect automatically at the tribunal hearing when the public prosecutor presents the allegations to the tribunal. 

Sally Pokiton