EFF notice debacle delays court challenge to Riotous Assemblies Act

2018-09-20 18:36
EFF leader Julius Malema speaks to the legal team in the North Gauteng High Court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

EFF leader Julius Malema speaks to the legal team in the North Gauteng High Court (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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A procedural mishap, involving a notice the EFF filed at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, has led to a delay in the party's challenge to the constitutionality of the Riotous Assemblies Act.

This, after the party told the court on Thursday that procedures relating to a notice they had filed with the registrar of the court, in terms of Rule 16A of the Uniform Rules of Court, were not carried out correctly.

Such a notice is filed when a constitutional issue is raised in a case and an interested party can apply to be admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court).

It has to contain a clear and succinct description of the constitutional issue concerned, and the registrar has to place it on the notice for a period of 20 days.

However, a technicality led to the procedure not strictly being carried out the way it should have been.

Now the party has to file a new notice.

In court on Thursday morning, the EFF's advocate, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, requested that the case be postponed so that a new notice could be filed.

He said his clients deserved a hearing and that it was a "very public case".

"It's clear that the matter is urgent and needs to be resolved. The case is not about politics, but [about the] Riotous Assemblies Act. This case cries out to be finalised," he said.

But Hilton Epstein, SC, who represented the minister of justice, told the court they wanted the case to proceed.

"The matter before this court is to decide whether the Riotous Assemblies Act is unconstitutional or not. It is a matter that needs urgent intervention," Epstein submitted.

Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba responded: "It also cries out that those who have an interest in the matter should participate."

Ngcukaitobi asked Ledwaba to allow them to "jump the queue".

The judge ordered that the EFF deliver the new notice 35 days from Thursday.

He added that the notice should also be served on the respondents and ordered the party to file an affidavit confirming compliance.

The case was postponed to December 12 and 13.

The EFF is challenging the act on the basis that it was an apartheid piece of legislation which was enacted in response to the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in 1955.

EFF leader Julius Malema faces separate charges under the act in cases in the Bloemfontein and Newcastle Magistrate's Courts, after he allegedly called on EFF supporters to illegally occupy land.

Read more on:    eff  |  malema  |  julius

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