WITH 35 years of fighting injustice in our country under his belt, it did not come as a surprise to find about 350 people making their way to the Guild Theatre to listen to Advocate Gerrie Nel share his views on the fight against corruption on Tuesday.
The event was organised by Rotary Club, an organisation of business and professional persons who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace.
At the beginning of his talk, Nel called out the names of some corrupt people, asking the audience if they had heard of them. Many in the audience responded with a “yes”.
Then he mentioned more names that were largely unknown to the audience. He said these unknown people were heroes and whistleblowers who had kept their ethical standards high in the face of adversity.
“The strangest thing is you know all these other people but you don’t know who the real heroes of this country are. I think we should focus on the real heroes of this country and not these other people,” he said.
Nel said he had studied law to ensure that there was justice for all.
“I studied law because I hate unlawfulness and I hate the police. I am not a politician nor a political analyst. For me the purpose of the law is that justice is done. But what I’m going to share with you tonight is something that I have experienced, something that I did to defend in the courts in our country,” he told the audience.
He said corruption has led South Africans to lose trust in their police.
“I’m sure we got brilliant police men and women who work hard everyday but as a country we haven’t had a police commissioner since 1994 who was able to work full time. They were either suspended, prosecuted or both,” he said.
Nel said he has a purpose to ensure that there is no selective prosecution.
“For me, the purpose of the law is to ensure that justice is done. I practised in criminal law and we cannot have selective justice in criminal law. We cannot prosecute certain people for certain things and others not. For me, it’s all about equality in the law and that must be the basic principle of the law,” he said.
He touched on topics such land redistribution without compensation, bribery, corrupt politicians and more.
Rotary club President Rommy Naude praised Nel for dedicating his life to fighting injustice in our society.
“He is a well-known and internationally recognised prosecutor who works according to very high ethical standards. He is determined to tackle injustice, to ensure equality before the law and is particularly he is particularly prepared to – and does – take on corrupt people with connections who seem to be above the law,” Naude said.
She said another statement Nel made was that he dedicated himself to fight any tampering with the constitution.
“Nel used the example of Section 25, which protects everybody’s right to property. If this section gets changed under the flag of land redistribution without compensation, this basic right to property is jeopardised. And this is a totally different issue than the land distribution one,” she said.
Nel challenged everyone in the audience to get a better understanding of corruption.
“We can only deal with corruption if we know what it is,” he said.