n South African Law Journal - The pasts and future of the rule of law in South Africa

Volume 124, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The 1996 Constitution lists among the founding values of the Republic the 'supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law' and, while it entrenches standard liberal rights and freedoms, it also goes well beyond this. It might thus be thought that the topic of the rule of law need not occupy the attention of South African lawyers, at least in contrast to the apartheid era, where the few judges and lawyers minded to uphold the rule of law had to rely on the fragile common-law constitutional principle of legality. However, the rule of law remains a contentious topic in South African jurisprudence, in part because it forms a focus for the politics of transformation and race. This essay examines the contest, largely through a focus on the litigation in . It argues that the prospects for the rule of law in South Africa cannot properly be evaluated without attention to the different pasts of the rule of law during apartheid.

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