It’s not often you hear a judge scathingly question the laws of a country, so when one does, you tend to sit up and take notice.
Pretoria High Court Judge Hans Fabricius on Thursday dismissed an application by 20 of the Guptas’ companies for an urgent application to ensure their Bank of Baroda bank accounts stayed open and to stop a demand for the repayment of loans, pending their application for an interim interdict.
The India-based Bank of Baroda has reported 46 suspicious transactions, involving more than R4.25 billion against the Guptas and their companies, to the Financial Intelligence Centre and said the transactions appeared to be on the increase.
The bank has refused to open any new accounts for the Guptas since June 2016 and recovered R1.2 billion by calling up loans.
“When reading details of the various allegations … I could not help to wonder whether, unbeknown to me, democracy and the rule of law had somehow been suspended,” said Fabricius.
“Could it be possible that the future, so bright in 1994, was now only history?
“Do the constitutional obligations imposed upon the prosecuting authority still exist? Do the various investigating bodies of the police service still remember their constitutional duty to combat and investigate crime?” he asked.
“I cannot give an answer in these proceedings for obvious reasons but the mere fact that the questions arise gravely concerns each and every one of us.”
We need more judges like Fabricius to highlight these concerns.