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Constitutional Law

Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. We've identified some articles that may be of interest to readers below.

Salem land is common ground

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Constitutional Law Litigation Property Law
The indigenous community of Salem in the Eastern Cape does not have exclusive rights to the thousand hectares of valuable farmland that makes up the Salem Commonage‚ the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday in dismissing the settlers’ appeal against judgments of the Land Claims Court and the SCA.

Move to short-circuit Zuma, NPA appeals

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Monday, 11 December 2017
Constitutional Law Litigation
The judiciary is under fire again from sections of the ANC following Friday’s Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) judgment (see report below), which found President Jacob Zuma had been ‘reckless’ to the point of lying in unlawfully paying off Advocate Mxolisi Nxasana to vacate the office of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), and effectively labelled current NPA boss Shaun Abrahams a Zuma lackey.

Banks class action set for High Court

With the Constitutional Court having refused to hear the R60bn class action suit launched against the major lending banks, the case is heading to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) early in the new year. The class action suit was filed in the Constitutional Court in August by more than 225 applicants whose homes were repossessed and sold at sheriffs’ auctions for a fraction of their market value.

Employer's unilateral salary deductions 'unconstitutional'

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Friday, 08 December 2017
Constitutional Law Employment Law Litigation
The Constitutional Court has confirmed that a section of the Public Service Act‚ which permitted an employer to make unilateral deductions from an employee’s salary‚ is unconstitutional. The court confirmed the order by the Labour Court in January‚ which concerned a health manager who was erroneously overpaid for a number of years. Itunu Ibogu‚ a senior administrator at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital‚ found herself owing the Gauteng Health Department close to R800 000 after being erroneously appointed in the wrong position in 2010.

Shelter’s rules diminish people's rights

The Constitutional Court has held that the rules of the temporary shelter provided by the City of Johannesburg infringed on the residents’ rights to dignity‚ freedom and security of the person and privacy. A TimesLIVE report says the shelter not only did not allow spouses to sleep together but that residents had to leave in the morning and return before lockdown every night.

Court rules for women in pre-1998 polygamous marriages

The Constitutional Court has confirmed that a law which governs matrimonial property in customary marriages is unconstitutional, says a TimesLIVE report. Section 7(1) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA) of 1998 provides that wives who entered into customary marriages before the Act was passed do not have marital property rights.

SABC, MultiChoice deal under ConCourt scrutiny

Details of the multimillion-rand broadcasting deal between the SABC and MultiChoice may never be made public if the two companies get their way in the Constitutional Court, notes a Business Day report. The five-year agreement entered into by the two entities in 2013 resulted in the SABC pocketing more than R500m in exchange for extensive rights to its archived content, with an added pact that MultiChoice would not encrypt SABC TV channels when the country migrates to digital terrestrial television.

Sales in execution application dismissed by top court

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Constitutional Law Litigation Property Law
An application for direct access to the Constitutional Court on behalf of some 200 people, objecting to the conduct of the nation’s largest banks and home loan providers in attaching and selling the homes of defaulting debtors at prices below market value, has been dismissed, says a Moneyweb report.

Court strikes down private estate's apartheid-style rules

Private estates cannot enforce road traffic law or ‘domestic rules’ similar to the curfews and pass laws of the apartheid era‚ the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) has ruled. A TimesLIVE report notes the judgment ended a long-running case brought by Niemesh Singh‚ a resident of Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate‚ who argued that speed trapping in the estate was unlawful.

Transnet pensioners seek billions in 'lost' payments

About 60 000 Transnet pensioners have pinned their hopes on the Constitutional Court as they seek to proceed with a class action to seek billions from two pension funds. A TimesLIVE report notes that yesterday, the court heard their appeal against a Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) order from last year. Transnet pension fund recipients brought a lawsuit against the Transport Pension Fund and the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and Transnet in the High Court last year.

Landmark divorce case heads to ConCourt

A Deputy Minister is embroiled in a divorce battle with his ex-wife in a case that could set a precedent for women in the Eastern Cape, says a report in The Star. The unemployed mother has revealed in an affidavit filed in the Constitutional Court that her husband disregarded her as an equal and reduced her to an inferior being. ‘He set the (bad) example of how men should treat women in the area of the former Transkei,’ stated the ex-wife’s affidavit.

Spooks launch case against Jacques Pauw

The State Security Agency, having failed to halt distribution of Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, via ‘cease-and-desist’ threats, has opted to pursue the criminal route against the author, notes Legalbrief. It has opened a criminal case against Pauw and a former member of the agency, believed to be Paul Engelke, named as a source in the book. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation had received the docket, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed, according to Business Day.

Fight over language policy taken to higher courts

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Friday, 10 November 2017
Civil Rights Constitutional Law Litigation
Lobby group Gelyke Kanse (Equal Opportunities) is heading for the SCA and may also launch a direct application to the Constitutional Court following its defeat in the High Court. A report in Die Burger notes that Gelyke Kanse wants the court to set aside Stellenbosch University’s language policy stipulating English as the primary language of instruction.

Maintenance offender gets short shrift

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Thursday, 09 November 2017
Constitutional Law Divorce Law Litigation
For the second time‚ the Constitutional Court was unable to hear an appeal by a father whose house is to be attached – by order of the High Court – to satisfy a debt for failing to pay maintenance for his child, notes a TimesLIVE report. The court did not hear the merits of his appeal because he had failed to comply with an order passed by the court when it was due to hear the matter in August.

ConCourt overturns another costs judgment

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Wednesday, 08 November 2017
Constitutional Law Litigation
The Constitutional Court has again referenced its Biowatch judgment on the payment of costs in 2009 to relieve three university students of legal costs after losing two court cases. Both the Eastern Cape High Court (Grahamstown) and the SCA had ordered the students pay Rhodes University’s costs in their application for leave to appeal an earlier judgment.

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