A thundering defeat for government over lockdown regulations

Posted 02 June 2020

The Pretoria High Court on Tuesday 2 June 2020 delivered a thundering defeat to government over its "irrational" lockdown regulations, which should open the way for a rapid return to economic normality.

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Major precedent set for communities affected by mining

Posted 29 October 2018

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled in favour of communities arguing for a bigger say in mining decisions.

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Calling for whites to be treated as Hitler did to Jews declared hate speech

Posted 05 October 2018

In a moment of anger, ANC member Velaphi Khumalo let rip on Facebook that SA needed to be cleansed of whites, who needed to be treated as Hitler did to the Jews. He was responding to an earlier racist comment from Penny Sparrow who referred to blacks “as monkeys”. Both, no doubt, have come to rue their incautious remarks. Both recanted. But Judge Roland Sutherland of the Gauteng Equality Court was not happy with Khumalo’s apparent recantation, especially as he more recently decided it wasn’t hate speech after all. Khumalo's remarks have been declared hate speech by the Equality Court.

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Expropriation without compensation meant nothing to me till my land was invaded

Posted 02 September 2018

Three black Limpopo landowners have forced Police Minister Bheki Cele and Soshanguve station commander Brigadier Samuel Thine to take action against people who invaded their land in Onderstepoort‚ north of Pretoria. They turned to AfriForum to defend against the land invasion. It has also been reported that Cape Town has experienced a 53% increase in land invasions last year. As several observers have pointed out, these are the inevitable consequences of reckless talk surrounding expropriation with compensation. 

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Putting property rights at the heart of land reform

Posted 29 June 2018

Property rights are not a hindrance to land reform, but part of the solution. This is the main thrust of a recent address to influential German opinion makers in Berlin today by Terence Corrigan, project manager at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). ‘The denial of property rights was central to the disempowerment of African people in the past,’ Corrigan says. ‘Over the past decade, the movement has been to replicate this.’ Extending property rights rather than diluting or removing them, he argues, ‘would not be to ignore history, but would recognise it’. Corrigan is in Germany on the first leg of a campaign tour to Europe and Britain to build international support for protecting and extending the property rights of all South Africans, and to gain global support for opposition to Expropriation without Compensation (EWC). 

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Another absurd report from the Public Protector

Posted 13 June 2018

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has had a rough time since taking office. First, she ordered Parliament to amend the Constitution – despite the fact that she had no power to do so. Then a High Court found that she was biased and lacked impartiality, as well as being dishonest and incompetent, and ordered her personally to pay a part of the legal costs in a case brought against her. Now she has released a report on Helen Zille’s highly problematic tweets on colonialism that is so legally misguided that it is difficult to believe that a qualified lawyer could write it in good faith. 

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How SA should tackle the redistribution of land in urban areas

Posted 13 May 2018

In this interview, co-author of “Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa”, argues that talk of land expropriation without compensation is premature, as this is already catered for in the Housing Act. Rather make use of existing laws to accommodate the unhoused before taking the radical step of amending the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

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Pretoria court cements its reputation as the banker's best friend

Posted 16 April 2018

A judgment just handed down by the Pretoria High Court allows the banks to continue selling repossessed properties without a reserve price. This flies in the face of changes announced just months ago - after years of lobbying - to stop this practice (which has resulted in homes being sold at auction for as little as R10). Late last year High Court rule 46 was amended to allow judges to impose a reserve price. Reading through this judgment, it is hard to argue with those who say the courts are merely extensions of the banks. The judgment has shocked many in the legal community who have being fighting banking malpractices. The case is being appealed by Lawyers for Human Rights.

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Property rights are human rights

Posted 13 April 2018

The EFF’s attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation – with the support of the ANC – is a direct attack on the most fundamental rights enjoyed by all South Africans. If they can take away your land without compensation, they can take anything they want. Chris Hattingh of the Free Market Foundation looks at what’s going on.

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Has the land grab begun, or will it be nipped in the bud?

Posted 14 March 2018

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba recently ordered police to stop land invasions in Orange Farm and Blue Hills, both near Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa, responding to another land grab at Olivenhoutbosch near Pretoria, has likewise warned land invaders that they would face the full might of the law. The National Assembly last month passed a majority vote allowing for land expropriation, and has now referred the matter to the Constitutional Review Committee. Is this setting a pattern for the future, or will the rule of law prevail?

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Michael Komape died because he was a rural African child

Posted 02 February 2018

Michael Komape drowned in a pit toilet outside Polokwane in 2014. Such a death could only occur to a rural African child in a school where neglect and indifference were standard. The family is suing the province's Department of Basic Education, seeking more than R2m in damages and a court order that will force the government to attend to the shocking state of sanitation in schools across the province.

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Lessons for SA from Zimbabwe

Posted 21 January 2018

South Africa has a tortured history of land ownership. Under apartheid, black South Africans were denied freehold title to land, but were allowed to reside in townships like Soweto under 30 and then 99-year leaseholds. Yet tends of thousands of residents lose their homes each year to the banks. As Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation points out, repossessed properties should be returned to the local government, not the banks. Black South Africans, experiencing their first taste of property ownership, may well wonder whether this is the freedom for which they had hoped. Now ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa now wants to take land from white farmers without compensation. Zimbabwean member of parliament Eddie Cross explains that this is a rapid route to ruin, and one need only look north of our border to understand why. Here is a lesson from Zimbabwe and how land reform should be done. 

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Beware ANC threats to overturn property rights

Posted 10 January 2018

The ANC's support for a change in the Bill of Rights' property protection clause, allowing for expropriation without compensation, harkens back to a darker time in SA's history - the infamous Land Act of 1913 which deprived black South Africans of property rights in so-called "white" areas. The ANC is on a slippery path to outright tyranny, and the victims will be drawn from every class and race group. All it needs is a hostile government, and then no property rights will be sacrosanct, says Eustace Davie of the Free Market Foundation.

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Reckless amendments to the Constitution will be illegal

Posted 13 July 2017

Calls to chop and change our Constitution amount to little more than spur-of-the-moment political kneejerks. If those calls are effected, they will be contrary to the rule of law and therefore void. South Africans should respect the Constitution as an inflexible statute meant to endure for generations.

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New laws that are killing free speech

Posted 18 May 2017

Free speech is under attack by an out-of-control government that seeks to monitor and regulate everything that moves (even sounds out of your mouth). Two of the most appalling pieces of proposed legislation to belly-flop before us are the Hate Speech bill - which makes it a criminal offence to jokingly insult a lawyer or a plumber - and the Information and Communications Technologies Policy white paper, which would create a semi-monpoly owned by the state with control over the radio frequency. 

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Another instalment in the march towards tyranny

Posted 24 April 2017

The Hate Speech Bill is a ridiculous attempt to protect 17 different categories of perceived victims from insult or injury. Of course, it does not pass the Constitutional test, but perhaps it is not intended to. It allows politicians to indulge their favourite pastime of race-baiting to distract from their own failings. Former Judge Rex van Schalkwyk explains what is going on. 

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Is ours a superficial democracy?

Posted 04 April 2017

Democracy cannot simply mean voting every five years. Participation is a crucial ingredient that breathes substance into the system. It also breathes legitimacy and longevity into the mandate the government receives every five years. Without the government ensuring meaningful participation, ours is a superficial democracy that, only on paper, is distinguishable from dictatorship.

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Concourt rules that social security paymaster contractor must continue

Posted 17 March 2017

The contract allowing Cash Paymster Services to continue paying social security grants has been extended for another year, according to Business Day. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (pictured left) had clearly lost patience with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini over who exactly was going to pay out grants come 1 April.

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Can you consent to an illegal eviction order?

Posted 25 January 2017

Nearly 200 people living on a commercial property in Berea, Johannesburg, are challenging an eviction order, on the grounds that they did not agree to it and that even if they had agreed, the order was unjust.

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Is it constitutional to make hate speech an offence?

Posted 23 January 2017

Do we need a hate crimes bill to stamp out racism, sexism and other forms of unacceptable speech? As some legal commentators have already pointed out, laws already exist to stamp out hate speech, and incitement to violence is already a crime. Why do we need this new legislation? And will the government apply it equally, in which case several members of parliament, including the EFF's Julius Malema, would now be in jail? Safura Abdool Karim at Groundup argues the case.

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Concourt ends shady practice by creditors

Posted 25 September 2016

A recent Constitutional Court finding brings to an end the shady practice of "forum shopping" - bringing legal action in a court far from where the creditor lives so as to thwart justice - and all emolument attachment orders now issued must be subject to judicial oversight. 

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Groundbreaking Concourt decision on garnishee orders

Posted 13 September 2016

Garnishee orders have a soggy history in SA. Stories abound of workers trying to survive on R100 a month after garnishee orders had been deducted from their monthly pay. Many of these were granted by clerks of the court in jurisdictions far away from where the victims lived. This is now a thing of the past, after a Constitutional Court decision that garnishee orders must be subject to judicial oversight (rather than issued by clerks of the court), and must be just, equitable and of an appropriate amount, according to Moneyweb.

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Concourt declares land rights amendment act invalid

Posted 15 August 2016

The Constitutional Court declared that the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act was invalid on Thursday last week, citing lack of public participation prior to its promulgation.

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EFF's Malema high treason charge over threats of violence

Posted 02 May 2016

Economic Freedom Fighter leader Julius Malema leads an increasingly schizophrenic life, applauding the Constitutional Court when it rules against President Zuma over his Nkandla private residence, but trashing the Constitution in the next breath by threatening to remove the government through force if necessary. One of the drafters of the Constitution, George Devenish, looks at the implications.

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SA courts make popular judgments at the expense of the law

Posted 28 April 2016

Some recent cases have sparked alarm among those concerned with the rule of law in the country. One of them, surprisingly, is the Constitutional Court case ruling over President Zuma's Nkandla residence. The court effectively ruled that a presidential appointee outside the judiciary may make rulings on unproven allegations. In another case, Oscar Pistorius' conviction for unintentional murder has now been turned into outright murder. Something is wrong here, argues Leon Louw. 

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