Pleas for more protection of dignity, and end of ‘Die Stem’

2012-10-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Constitution does not do enough to protect the dignity of black people — especially those who are obliged to sit on the back of bakkies while a white man drives with no one alongside him.

This was one of the submissions on possible constitutional amendments dealt with by Parliament’s legal advisers yesterday.

Parliament’s constitutional amendment committee received 18 proposals to weigh up.

J.M. Ramokgoatedi said the Constitution does not have enough provisions to enforce the protection of dignity, adding that transporting people on the back of bakkies ought to be defined as an assault on their right to dignity.

Legal adviser Sueanne Isaac said that in terms of the National Road Transport Act, it is already illegal in certain circumstances to transport people on open bakkies with equipment and animals, and therefore no constitutional amendment is necessary.

Bonga Mthembu submitted that Die Stem should be removed from the national anthem because it reminded people of apartheid.

Advocate Anthea Gordon said Mthembu is seeking an amendment to the anthem, not the Constitution.

Mthembu also asked that land redistribution should be speeded up and that provision must be made for expropriation without compensation. Gordon said Mthembu is actually asking that a provision of the Constitution (that land may only be expropriated without compensation if this is in the public interest) should be flouted.

“There is certainly a need for the redistribution of land, but such an appeal would amount to an extensive policy change. Land is a serious political question and this provision could not be amended without a complete policy change about expropriation,” Gordon said.

Vusumuzi Gcuma submitted that the words: “May God protect the people of South Africa” should be removed from the Constitution because South Africa is a secular state and the Constitution should be faith neutral.

Gcuma also submitted that polyandry, in which a woman may have more than one husband, should be allowed.

Advocate Gary Rhoda said this is not a question for a constitutional amendment, but for amendments to existing laws like the Marriage Act.

The committee will continue to discuss the submissions.

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