Minister of Police and Others v Premier of the Western Cape and Others

Case No.  Lower Court Judgments  Hearing Date
CCT 13/13 Western Cape High Court, 13 Jan. 2013 6 Aug. 2013

By Duncan Wild on 23 April 2013

The case involves the legality of the Premier of the Western Cape’s (“the Premier’s”) appointment of the O’Regan Commission into complaints related to inefficiency in the South African Police Service (“the SAPS“) stations in Khayelitsha, as well as the breakdown in relations between the SAPS operating in Khayelitsha and the Khayelitsha community (“the O’Regan Commission”).

On 24 August 2012, the Premier established the O’Regan Commission, appointing its chair, former Justice of the Constitutional Court, Catherine O’Regan, and Mr. Vusumuzi Pikoli as commissioners.

On 5 November 2012, the applicants, including the Minister of Police (“the Minister”), the National Commissioner of the SAPS (“the National Commissioner”) and the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS (“the Provincial Commissioner”) launched an application in two parts: first, seeking an interim interdict halting the operation of the O’Regan Commission, and specifically to prevent Commission from giving effect to subpoenas it had issued or to issue further subpoenas, pending the outcome of the second part; and second, seeking an order setting aside the establishment of the O’Regan Commission.

At this stage, it is strictly speaking only the first part of the relief sought that the court had to decide, that is the interim relief pending a court’s final decision on the legality of the Premier’s establishment of the O’Regan Commission. In other words, the lawfulness of the appointment of the Commission is not directly before the court for decision. What the court must determine is whether the applicants have met the requirements for interim relief: the High Court set out these requirements as “the applicant must establish a prima facie right to the relief sought even if such relief may be open to some doubt; a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm if the interim relief is not granted and the ultimate relief is eventually granted: that the balance of convenience favour the granting of the interim relief; and the absence of any other satisfactory remedy available to the applicant.”

In addition, the High Court noted that as the applicants based certain of the relief sought in the Constitution, that the test should be applied “cognizant of the normative scheme and democratic principles that underpin the Constitution,” referring to the Constitutional Court’s e-tolling case, National Treasury & Others v Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance & Others 2012 (11) BCLR 1148 (CC). The prime impact of this is that when considering the balance of convenience, the court must consider the impact of granting an interim interdict that restrains the constitutional or statutory powers of a state functionary or organ of state.

The applicants challenged the legality of the O’Regan Commission on a number of grounds, including that the Premier: acted irrationally in appointing the Commission; did not comply with the Constitutional obligations of co-operative governance in appointing the Commission; did not engage with the relevant constitutional and statutory bodies before appointing the Commission; and usurped the powers of the police by empowering the Commission to issue subpoenas, including the power to subpoena police officials, as well as to investigate crimes. There were other grounds based on an alleged ulterior motive in appointing the Commission, and that appointing a judge as a commissioner was impermissible. Continue reading

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 120/12
North Gauteng High Court, 15 Nov. 2012 19 Mar. 2013
11 July 2013 Zondo J. Unanimous

By Duncan Wild on 22 July 2013

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“NSPCA“) brought an application to have sections 2 and 3 of Performing Animals Protection Act 24 of 1935 declared unconstitutional, because the sections grant Magistrates the power to license the “exhibiting and training” of performing animals or guard dogs.  The NSPCA says it is an executive function to perform acts such as licensing, and not the judiciary’s, and so the sections infringe the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and should be set aside.  The High Court agreed with the NSPCA and declared the sections unconstitutional.  The Constitutional Court confirmed this finding of unconstitutionality in a judgment authored by Justice Zondo. The primary basis for the finding was that the allocation of this executive type function to the judicial branch was an unjustifiable infringement of the separation of powers.

Download the judgment here.

Head of Department, Department of Education Free State Province v Welkom High School and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 103/12 Free State High Court, 12 May 2011
SCA, 28 Sep. 2012
 5 Mar. 2013  10 July 2013 Khampepe J.  5-3

By Duncan Wild on 22 July 2013

In this case the Constitutional Court had to determine whether the Department of Education may order the principal of a public school to readmit learners to that school in circumstances where the school’s governing body has adopted a policy which provides for the mandatory exclusion of the learners.

The case involved two schools, Welkom High School and Harmony High School (“the Schools“), that had adopted policies dealing with learner pregnancies.  In essence, both policies allowed the school to exclude a learner who became pregnant from the school for a period of time. In 2010, a learner was excluded from each of the Schools under these policies and the learners complained to the provincial Department of Education. Soon thereafter, the  Head of Department, Department of Education Free State Province (“HOD“) wrote to each of the Schools directing that the learners be re-admitted.

Each school then brought an application to court that were subsequently consolidated into one matter, and the High Court granted an order declaring the HOD had no authority to compel a school principle from acting in a manner contrary to the policy adopted by the school governing body; declared the exclusion of the learners valid in law; and interdicted the HOD from taking steps to undermine the schools decisions.  Continue reading

Mukaddam and Others v Pioneer Food (Pty) Ltd and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 115/12 Western Cape High Court, 7 April 2011
SCA, 29 Nov. 2012
 7 May 2013
 27 June 2013 Jafta J.  Unanimous

By Duncan Wild on 29 June 2013.

The issue is whether the applicants can receive certification from the court in order to bring a class action against the respondents.  The case is brought by Mr. Imraan Ismail Mukaddam, W E M Distributors CC and Mr. Abdul Kariem Ebrahim (“the applicants”).  The applicants are bread distributors in the Western Cape who purchase bread from one or other of the respondents, all major South African bread producers, and distribute it mainly to informal traders who in turn sell it to consumers.

The Constitutional Court set aside the prior decisions of the High Court and SCA, finding that the incorrect standard had been applied, and that the test had been incorrectly applied, and allowed the applicants to file further papers with the High Court which would then have to reconsider the certification. Continue reading

Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe v Fick and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments  Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 101/12
North Gauteng High Court, 6 Jun. 2011
SCA, 20 Sep. 2012
 28 Feb. 2013  27 June 2013 Mogoeng CJ.  Unanimous

By Duncan Wild and Ben Winks on 29 June 2013.

This case concerns the recognition and enforcement of two judgments by the Tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (“SADC“) against Zimbabwe, and the consequent attachment of immovable property owned by Zimbabwe in South Africa.  As a sovereign state, Zimbabwe is generally immune from the jurisdiction of, and execution by, the domestic courts of other states.

The Constitutional Court found that Zimbabwe was not immune from the jurisdiction of the South African courts in respect of judgments of the SADC Tribunal, and that all the requirements for the recognition of a foreign judgement (the definition of which the Court extended to include international tribunals) had been met. Zimbabwe’s appeal was therefore dismissed with costs. Continue reading

Tulip Diamonds FZE v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others

Case No.
Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author
Vote
CCT 93/12 South Gauteng High Court, 9 Jun. 2011
SCA, 7 Sep. 2012
26 Feb. 2013 13 Jun. 2013 Van der Westhuizen J. 6-3

The issue is whether Tulip Diamonds FZE (“Tulip“), an entity incorporated in Dubai, has legal standing to challenge a decision by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to give assistance to the Belgian authorities following a Letter of Request for such assistance sent under the International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act 75 of 1996 (“the Act“).  The documents are required in a criminal investigation into a Belgian company, Omega Diamonds. The South African authorities were requested to search and seize certain documents from a South African company, Brinks (Southern Africa) (Pty) Ltd (“Brinks“), related to shipments of diamonds from Angola to Tulip in Dubai.  The SCA held that Tulip had no standing to challenge the decision and the issuance of a subpoena by the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court requiring Brinks to produce the relevant documents, because Tulip did not have a sufficient interest in those documents.  According to the SCA, Tulip did not show that the documents in question were confidential or that Brinks had a contractual duty to preserve their confidentiality, and so Tulip had no proprietary right in the documents.   Continue reading