SAHRC welcomes Cape jogger ruling

2013-06-18 22:25

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Johannesburg - A court ruling dismissing an application by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for a review of findings in a matter involving a Cape Town jogger was welcomed on Tuesday.

"We are very pleased with [the judge's] finding that the minister must respect the [SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)] and the work done by the commission," its chairperson Lawrence Mushwana said in a statement.

"This should really send the message to other government officials who do not co-operate with the commission or its findings."

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found in favour of the commission last week and dismissed the minister's application with punitive costs.

Police ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said Mthethwa had not undermined the commission, but had raised valid Constitutional issues.

The issue was whether litigants should have access to many forums in which to "ventilate their complaints against the state", or if a particular forum within which to do so should be established, said Mnisi.

"The judgment does not clarify this important Constitutional issue, and may lead to extensive cherry-picking by litigants in the future."

The SAHRC found in July 2011, that a number of political science student Chumani Maxwele's rights had been violated.

Maxwele was detained in February 2010 and was quizzed about his political affiliations after he showing a rude hand sign to a convoy carrying President Jacob Zuma while jogging.

He alleged that his head was covered, his legs were tied, he was taken to two different police stations for interrogation, and that his home was searched.

Maxwele said he was held a day without being fed, and was released by the Wynberg Magistrate's Court without appearing.

Review application

SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the SAHRC found against Mthethwa and the president's Special Protection Unit (SPU).

In January 2012, the minister brought an application to review, set aside and substitute the SAHRC's decision on appeal, Mangena said.

In a hearing on Wednesday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg criticised Mthethewa's behaviour and reminded him of his constitutional duties.

"[The judge] found that the minister had displayed a disconcerting attitude which, if not downright contemptuous of the commission, at the very least showed disrespect for the commission's standing as a body instituted by the Constitution...," Mangena said.

"The judge accordingly found that the minister's conduct fell far short of its duty to assist the commission," he said.

Mthethwa noted and respected the judgment, Mnisi said.

"The minister instituted the review proceedings on legitimate grounds that the findings of the SAHRC could impact on the legal proceedings instituted against the minister in this matter," he said.

"The legal proceedings in this matter are at an advanced stage and are likely to be settled."

- SAPA
Read more on:    sahrc  |  chumani maxwele  |  lawrence mushwana  |  jacob zuma  |  nathi mthethwa  |  cape town  |  johannesburg
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