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Most recent Civil Rights Articles posted

Mandela's medical information is 'sacrosanct'

Any patient-related information within the doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct, and must be respected, even after death. A Cape Times report says the SA Medical Association (Sama) said this following the release – and subsequent withdrawal – of a book detailing the last days of former President Nelson Mandela. The book was written by former SANDF surgeon-general Dr Vejay Ramlakan, who was part of the medical team treating Mandela in the months before his death.

Mandela book withdrawn following legal threats

Penguin Random House SA acted swiftly yesterday to withdraw Dr Vejay Ramlakan’s book as legal action looms. The Star reports this came after the executors of Nelson Mandela’s estate – Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Advocate George Bizos and Judge Themba Sangoni – stepped in to consider laying a complaint with the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) and the SANDF.

Evictions ruling seen as 'disaster' for rural occupiers

Former employees of a brick plant in Cape Town have lost their five-year battle to hold on to their farm homes, notes a TimesLIVE report. Yesterday the Constitutional Court said they should move 30km from Muldersvlei‚ near Klapmuts‚ to Wolwerivier‚ near Atlantis‚ which they argued is too far from their children’s schools and their workplace. A spokesperson for Lawyers for Human Rights‚ which represented the ex-employees‚ said the judgment was disappointing.

Court clears up issue of identifying minors

In what a Pretoria News report calls a victory for the media, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has ruled that all child offenders, victims and witnesses may be identified once they have turned 18. Twelve media houses scored this victory following an application by the Centre for Child Law, Childline SA and the young woman who became known to the country as Zephany Nurse, launched legal proceedings to protect the identities of children even after they had turned 18.

Doctors accuse medical aid schemes of spying

Doctors have accused SA’s biggest medical aid schemes of spying on them and sneaking hidden cameras into their consulting rooms. The healthcare practitioners also claim the schemes are guilty of withholding payment from doctors without proof of misconduct. A Sunday Times report says these claims are contained in documents filed in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) by the National Healthcare Professionals Association, in a claim against 19 medical aid schemes.

Judge raises concern over Facebook harassment

The use of cellphones in prisons was one of the concerns expressed by KZN High Court (Durban) Judge Esther Steyn when she handed down a 31-year prison sentence to a man who haunted his ex-girlfriend through Facebook messages while in prison, says a Daily News report. Steyn said something needed to be done about it.

Schools cannot promote one religion

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has ruled public schools cannot promote one religion. The case was brought by the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (Ogod) against six schools, notes a News24 report. Judge Willem van der Linde, in handing down the judgment, said: ‘Neither a school governing body nor a public school may lawfully hold out that it subscribes to only a single particular religion to the exclusion of others.’

25% garnishee salary cap

The government plans to introduce a salary cap on the percentage that can be ‘attached’ by creditors using emolument attachment orders to collect debt, notes a BusinessLIVE report. The Courts of Law Amendment Bill proposes that no more than 25% of a debtor's salary can be attached, no matter how many attachment orders they may have against them.

Disappointment at court decision on grants deductions

The Black Sash Trust says it is disappointed by the court’s decision to refuse its application for leave to appeal an earlier ruling which allowed Net1 to deduct money from the accounts of social grant beneficiaries, notes a report on the IoL site. In May, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruled against the order by the Department of Social Development and Sassa to stop Net1 from allowing deductions from accounts of grant beneficiaries.

Bank's reliance on 'accelerator' clause dismissed

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has refused to enforce an ‘accelerator’ clause in a home loan agreement based on a 2016 Constitutional Court judgment making it much more difficult for banks to take back the homes of defaulters, a Beeld report notes.

Dagga – Arrest Risk Remains

Following on from the judgment in the Prince v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others case there is a lot of confusion as to whether dagga (cannabis) remains an illegal drug in South Africa, fuelled in part by conflicting media reports.

SCA told Walus stripped of SA citizenship

The SCA, which is wrestling with an appeal against a Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruling in favour of bail for Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Walus, was told yesterday Walus had been stripped of his SA citizenship. ‘Representatives of the Department of Home Affairs confirmed it,’ Advocate Roelof du Plessis SC told Judges Christiaan van der Merwe, Jeremiah Shongwe, Mandisa Maya, Boissie Mbha and Ashton Schippers.

Victims fight to change Criminal Procedure Act

The alleged sexual assault victims of the late philanthropist and stockbroker Sidney Frankel had their dignity violated by a section in the Criminal Procedure Act which prevents their complaints from being prosecuted after 20 years of the event. According to a TimesLIVE report, this is the view of Anton Katz SC‚ counsel for eight people who claim Frankel sexually assaulted them when they were between seven and 15 during the 1970s and 1980s.

Eviction order set aside over homelessness issue

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has set aside an eviction order granted against 84 men‚ women and children living at 8 O’Reilly Street‚ Hillbrow‚ in Johannesburg’s inner city‚ the Socio-economic Rights Institute (Seri) said. According to a TimesLIVE report, it said the court held that the eviction order should not have been made without the City of Johannesburg being part of the proceedings.

Religion 'at', not 'by', schools, argues NGO

Differences in meaning of the prepositions ‘at’ and ‘by’ support the argument that six public schools contravene the Constitution with their policies on teaching religion, the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) heard yesterday. During closing arguments, Hendrik van Nieuwenhuizen, for the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (Ogod), quoted section 15.2 of the Constitution, according to which ‘religious observances’ may be conducted ‘at’, and not ‘by’ public schools, says a report on the News24 site.

Judges focus on discrimination in schools religion case

If one majority religion is practised in school assemblies‚ then any pupil who asks to miss the assembly is forced to say they are different. Advocate Johan du Toit SC was pressed on this in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) as he defended six Afrikaans schools’ right to promote a Christian ethos‚ including Bible readings, at assembly, notes a TimesLIVE report.

Mother to get R18m for brain-damaged son

The MEC for Health has to pay R18.2m in damages to a mother whose son was born more than 10 years ago with severe brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen. A Pretoria News report says Jessie Makhoba initially claimed more than R26m in damages in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) following the negligence of the staff and doctors at the Pholosong Hospital in Brakpan.

District Six claimants demand homes

District Six claimants who have been waiting for homes for more than 20 years have warned Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti to stop rewarding claimants with ‘shoddy houses and back-hand deals’. A Cape Times report says about 700 claimants gathered at a meeting organised by the District Six working committee on Saturday, where it was made clear that claimants will no longer tolerate delays in the restitution process.

University in bid to gag ex-lecturer

The University of Zululand has taken a former lecturer to court in a bid to stop him ‘defaming’ the institution and vice-chancellor Professor Xoliswa Mtose. The Mercury reports the university also wants Hlakaniphani Jamile to tender a public apology for and retract statements which, it claims, he caused to be published in the press. The case came before the KZN High Court (Durban) on Friday.

Journalists launch challenge to constitutionality of Rica

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism has launched a constitutional challenge to the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica), notes Legalbrief. In a report on the Mail & Guardian Online site, the applicant and leading investigative journalist Sam Sole, himself a victim of state eavesdroppers, notes that Rica serves as the basis for the lawful interception of citizens’ communications, ‘but we contend that there are fundamental flaws in the law and that various sections are inconsistent with the Constitution’.

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