Union 'not liable' for all protest damage

2012-02-09 16:27

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - If the necessary steps were taken to prevent harm during public protests, the organisers should not be held solely liable for damage, the Constitutional Court heard on Thursday.

Arguing an application by the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu), for leave to appeal an earlier judgment on damages, Wim Trengove said the law set out that liability was premised on reasonable steps being taken to avoid unforeseeable harm.

He told the court that "reasonable" by its nature, could never be inclusive of all the risk attached to a protest. The nature of a protest was to air grievances, and it was a confrontational and often explosive act.

Cape Town march

Satawu went to the Constitutional Court to challenge a recent ruling that held it responsible for damages caused during a march in Cape Town. The ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Satawu contends that parts of the legislation regarding the wording regarding freedom of assembly is unconstitutional.

Trengove questioned whether a protest against racism through the town of Ventersdorp should be cancelled - a violation of the right to protest - if there was a direct physical threat from members of rightwing organisations.

He said a union could bring in more people to maintain calm and also rely on police support, but it could not absolutely promise that the march would remain peaceful.

"Sometimes... despite reasonable steps... the threat of harm remains," Trengove asserted.

He conceded that a union was liable in some instances where it acted unlawfully, however this could not be the case where it did not "knowingly cause" harm.

"The union is not at fault, the perpetrators are... the legislation is poorly and sloppily drafted," he said.

Undue responsibility on organisers


The union, being supported by the Congress of SA Trade Unions, feels the legislation imposes undue responsibility on the organisers of a gathering. It holds that this is undemocratic in that it limits protest, which is often the only way people can make their voices heard. It argues that organisers will be too afraid to organise a gathering for fear of consequences over which they have no control.

The City of Cape Town joined the matter as an intervening party. It supports the eight respondents, who include street vendors, shop owners and car owners.

The Freedom of Expression Institute was admitted as a friend of the Court.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cosatu  |  satawu  |  cape town  |  protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
18 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 10:57 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2395.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.