Vulture feet judgment expected

2014-12-01 21:06
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Giant's Castle - home to the endangered Beared Vulture

Scott Ramsey explores the Central Drakensberg - home to Giant’s Castle, the best place to see one of Africa’s rarest birds.

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on Tuesday in an application to confirm the validity of a high court ruling that sections of an environmental decree pertaining to the former Transkei are constitutionally invalid.

Traditional healer Nokhanyo Khohliso, from Tsolo in the former Transkei, brought the application after the Eastern Cape High Court upheld her appeal against a conviction of possession of a pair of vulture feet, in contravention of sections of the decree.

The high court held that the provisions in the decree were unconstitutional and invalid because they were inconsistent with the rights to equality, dignity and a fair trial.

Khohliso maintains that the sections are unconstitutional because they violate the right to equality before the law by distinguishing unjustifiably between the people of the former Transkei and the people of the rest of the Eastern Cape.

Under the decree, the people of the former Transkei can legally possess fewer animal carcasses and face harsher sanctions than the populace of the rest of the Eastern Cape.

She also argues that the decree creates strict liability, which violates her right to a fair trial.

Although there was no appeal against the high court ruling, the Eastern Cape MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, the second respondent in the matter, contends that the Constitutional Court does not have the jurisdiction to confirm the declaration of invalidity.

The MEC submits that the decree is neither an act of Parliament, nor a provincial act, and argues that, as it has only been enforced in the former Transkei - partly because parallel legislation applies in the rest of the Eastern Cape - it does not have the territorially-binding effect of a provincial act.

As such, the MEC holds that the order is already of full force and effect.

Khohliso argues that the decree is a provincial act under the Constitution and that the Constitutional Court does have jurisdiction to hear the confirmation proceedings.

Read more on:    constitutional court  |  east london  |  conservation

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