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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Nkandla ruling by Concourt has put politicians back in their boxes

Posted 16 April 2016

The Nkandla ruling by the Constitutional Court may represent a watershed event for South Africans. The court ordered President Jacob Zuma to repay a portion of the taxpayer money used to build his Nkandla private estate. The ruling also demonstrated to politicians that they are not above the law, and this is arguably the main outcome of this case. Eustace Davies of the Free Market Foundation looks at the implications of the case.

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Government using legal sophistry to by-pass the constitution

Posted 31 January 2016

The judiciary has genuflected to Parliament's ongoing assault on property rights. As LLB student Martin van Staden points out, no society prospers where property rights are under attack. The result is inevitable: South Africans will continue securing their property rights in more hospitable climates abroad.

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Court bid to veto Zuma as president could save SA

Posted 19 January 2016

It is not too late for opposition parties to bring an application before the Constitutional Court challenging the suitability of Jacob Zuma to hold the office of president, says Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now. Zuma has demonstrated irrationality in transfering his finance minister and is fatally compromised as president.

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The dagga trials: the state argues zol makes you violent and stuff

Posted 04 January 2016

The dagga trial gets underway in March this year, and it should be a trip! On the one side is the Dagga Party of SA, led by Jeremy Acton, and on the other the state. The Dagga Party argues that SA is out of touch with the latest research findings and the trend towards decriminalisation of the world's favourite plant.

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"Unconstitutional" Expropriation bill will spook investors

Posted 28 July 2015

The draft Expropriation Bill gives government the right to expropriate land in what it deems is the public interest, paying "just and equitable" compensation. The Bill has been attacked by the banking association and the SA Institute of Race Relations.

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NCR to investigate all attachment orders from debt collector Flemix

Posted 15 July 2015

The National Credit Regulator will investigate hundreds of thousands of emolumernt attachment orders obtained by debt collector Flemix & Associates after a devastating judgment was handed down that makes it illegal to obtain such orders without a court hearing by a judge, according to Personal Finance.

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Free speech upheld in defamation case brought by Bitou municipality

Posted 09 June 2015

Can a municipality sue for defamation? Bitou municipality in Plettenberg Bay thought it could after being defamed by two individuals in a previous court case. Judge Jeanette Traverso of the Western Cape High Court slapped it down.

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Cape High Court reminds Parliament who's boss

Posted 17 May 2015

The Cape High Court last week reminded Parliament that the Constitution reigns supreme in SA after the Speaker earlier this year called in the police to remove unrul Economic Freedom Fighters MPs. Parliament has appealed the finding, according to Mail & Guardian.

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Badly written laws end up in court

Posted 22 April 2015

Three badly written laws are now before the courts for adjudication. One of these has been referred by the National Credit Regulator, seeking to establish whether repossessed assets sold at auction can be sold far below market price. The solution suggested is to set a reserve price.

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Shuttleworth's exchange control case headed for Concourt this week

Posted 03 March 2015

The Reserve Bank took R250 million in levies off Mark Shuttleworth when he tried to move his funds offshore. Having challenged this in the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, he is now headed for the Constitutional Court. 

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