n South African Journal on Human Rights - Post-matrix legal reasoning : horizontality and the rule of values in South African law

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



The film <I>The Matrix&lt;/I&gt; (1999) usefully illuminates why some members of the South African legal community would like to maintain that there are important differences between direct and indirect horizontal application. The legal matrix is a metaphor for a view of the law as reducible to a web of formal rules that either is or should be sealed off from `external influences' like politics, morality and values in general. The post matrix challenge is to grasp the insight that constitutional values are the whole of the law in South Africa. What those values are and how they are to be invoked and weighed do not exist in a rule or set of rules. The matrix of rules no longer exists as a separate reality (if it ever did). The existence of any rule is contingent on the values that support it. The distinction between the two routes to horizontal application can only be seen to make a difference from within a matrix mindset. There is virtually no difference from within the post-matrix mindset embodied in the 1996 Constitution. The decisions in <I>Holomisa v Khumalo&lt;/I&gt; 2002 (3) SA 38 (T) and <I>Khumalo v Holomisa</I> 2002 (5) SA 401 (CC) are evaluated from the perspective of `post-matrix legal reasoning'. Both decisions erode the illusory distinction between direct and indirect horizontal application of the Bill of Rights.

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