Boer Politics eBook

Yves Guyot
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about Boer Politics.

2.—­Confusion of Powers.

The Volksraad confuses legislative and judicial functions.  Should a judgment displease it, it arrogates to itself the right to annul it.  Nor is there any more respect shown by the Volksraad for contracts, and, on one occasion, it solemnly accorded to the Government the right to annul clauses which had ceased to be satisfactory.  It is unnecessary to add that the principle of the non-retrospectiveness of laws is altogether unknown to it.

In the Dom case the Volksraad passed a resolution disabling the aggrieved individual from taking action against the Government.

Early in the year 1897, the Government appointed for a given day, the allocation of the Witfontein farm in “claims” (mine concessions of 150 by 400 feet).  At the last moment it was announced that the claims would be decided by lottery; several persons having made known that they intended to sue the Government for their claims already pegged out, a measure was passed by the Volksraad declaring all such actions null and void.

A Mr. Brown, an American, took proceedings.  The President of the High Court, Mr. Kotze, pronounced that this law was unconstitutional, and gave judgment in favor of Brown, but left the amount of damages to be determined later after hearing further evidence.

Upon this, Mr. Krueger introduced a law known as Law I. of 1897, which empowered him to exact assurances from the judges that they would respect all resolutions of the Volksraad, without testing whether they were in accord or contradiction with the Constitution; and in the event of the President not being satisfied with the replies of the judges, it further empowered him to dismiss them summarily.  The judges protested in a body that they would not submit to such treatment.  The High Court was suspended and all legal business adjourned.

Sir Henry de Villiers, Chief Justice of Cape Colony, came to Pretoria to endeavour to avert the crisis.  Mr. Krueger promised to refrain from enforcing Law I. of 1897, and to introduce a new law.  The judges resumed their functions.

In February, 1898, a year later, President Krueger had not introduced a new law; President Kotze wrote to Krueger reminding him of his promise.  Mr. Krueger at once applied to him Law I. of 1897, and dismissed him.

Kotze was replaced by Mr. Gregorowski, who, at the time the law was passed had solemnly protested that no honourable man could continue to act as a judge in the Transvaal until the law was repealed.

Now what does Dr. Kuyper think of the Volksraad’s mode of legislation, and of the manner in which Mr. Krueger, that man “of intelligence and superior morality,” interprets respect for justice?



1.—­Legal and Judicial System of the Transvaal.

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Boer Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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