ConCourt to decide on riot damage

2012-02-08 22:35
Johannesburg - Transport trade union Satawu will approach the Constitutional Court on Thursday over four words which make the organisers of public protests liable for damage caused.

The Western Cape High Court recently held the union liable for damage done during a march in Cape Town.

The SA Transport and Allied Worker's Union had contended that the words, "was not reasonably foreseeable" were unconstitutional.

The union argued that the words infringed the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and fair labour practice.

The eight respondents whose property was damaged in the Satawu march and the minister of safety and security, the ninth respondent, contended that the words were constitutional.

The High Court agreed that the existing laws were consistent with the Constitution and this was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Now, the Constitutional Court will look at the wording of the law around the freedom of assembly.

The union, which is being supported by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), 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. Often social protest, by its nature, was fraught and explosive.

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

It supports the union and maintains that, in addition to being an infringement of the right to freedom of assembly, the wording of the law violates the right to freedom of expression.

This was a violation of the principles of the rule of law and democracy.

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

As it exists the Regulation of Gatherings Act allows a claim against the organisers of a march for "riot damage".

The only time an organisation would not be liable was if it proved that it did not commit or connive in the conduct causing the damage.

It would also not be liable if this conduct did not fall within the objectives of the gathering or "was not reasonably foreseeable".

The law makes it clear that the organiser is not liable provided it (in this case the union) took all reasonable steps within its power to prevent the damage caused by its members.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    cosatu  |  satawu  |  legislation 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Wales wary of Giteau threat
LIVE: Canada 8-0 Romania
LIVE: Fiji v Uruguay
Habana proud of spirited Springboks
Traffic Alerts

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Listen to your body and your emotional reactions. Know when to slow down or stop. It is more

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


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 network.


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.