Disrespect for institutions created by the Constitution was impeding South Africa moving forward as a country, he said.
In a speech released to Sapa on Tuesday, Ngoepe, speaking at a law firm’s anniversary celebrations on Saturday, said South Africa needed a culture where the Constitution was respected.
“How come that, in a country like this, we undermine and disrespect, for example, decisions and the post of the Public Protector?” he said.
“We need to have a culture in terms of which we respect the Constitution and those institutions which have been created by the Constitution…”
This would help realise the dream of a true democratic South Africa, with lawyers still needed to help South Africa realise this dream.
This was as South Africa still had a long way to go to leave its painful past behind.
“If, as people say, we do have the best Constitution in the world, which I’m not so sure about if that is the case, how come that we are a nation with the worst divide between the rich and the poor?”
If South Africa had the best Constitution in the world as was often said, Ngoepe asked why was it that the executive was not held to account for the things that it did.
“Where, if the fault does not lie with the Constitution, where does it lie?
“I don’t want to sound disrespectful, they say the law is an ass, but perhaps it’s not the law which is an ass, maybe the fault lies elsewhere.”
If South Africa had the best Constitution in the world, why were there such high levels of corruption and no appropriate action taken to remedy the situation?
Ngoepe said if South Africa had the world’s best Constitution, how come “somebody could find your piece of land and put up a shack there and says: ‘Unless you offer me alternative accommodation, I am not moving’?”
If South Africa’s Constitution was indeed the best, it needed to be asked why the country had very poor health facilities, as countries poorer than South Africa were doing more with less.
“I have warned you that don’t be in a hurry to kill the lawyers, we still need them, clearly, when we have got these challenges. But of course lawyers alone cannot remedy all the illness,” he said.
“Clearly the road is too long, clearly we still need the services of lawyers for a long, long time to come.”