South African Informal Traders Forum and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others

 Case No.  Lower Court Judgments  Hearing Date
 CCT 173/13  South Gauteng High Court, 27 November 2013 5 December 2013

By Duncan Wild on 4 December 2013

The first applicant, South African Informal Traders Forum (“SAITF“), is an association of informal traders, the second to one thousand two hundred and twelfth applicants (“the Traders“) until recently were informal traders doing business in the inner city of Johannesburg. During October 2013, all of the Traders were removed from their trading locations and their goods impounded, preventing them from trading. The first respondent, the City of Johannesburg (“the City“) states this was necessary to determine which of the Traders were operating unlawfully.

On 19 November 2013, SAITF and the Traders launched an application in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court of South Africa in Johannesburg (“Johannesburg High Court“), on an urgent basis, seeking first that the Traders be allowed to trade in the City, pending the resolution of second part of the application, which is a review of the lawfulness City’s actions in removing the Traders. The Johannesburg High Court found that the application was not urgent and so struck it from the roll. This would allow SAITF and the Traders to continue with the review application in the ordinary course, which could take several months to resolve. As the Traders would not be permitted to Trade during this period, this would, they say, cause them great prejudice as they would have no means to earn a living for at least several months.

SAITF and the Traders therefore approached the Constitutional Court seeking leave to appeal against the decision of the Johannesburg High Court, and either allowing the Traders to trade pending the outcome of the appeal in the Constitutional Court, or allowing them to trade pending the determination of the review application by the Johannesburg High Court.

 

 

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Another v Nontombi Masingili and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 44/13 Western Cape High Court, 20 Mar. 2013 27 Aug. 2013 28 Nov. 2013 Van der Westhuizen J. Unanimous

By Sarah McGibbon and Duncan Wild on 28 November 2013

This case appears before the Constitutional Court by way of confirmation proceedings in terms of section 172(2) of the Constitution, following Blignaut J and Van Staden AJ of the Western Cape High Court (“WCHC“) declaring section 1(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the impugned provision“) (which sets out the definition of aggravating circumstances in the context of robbery with aggravating circumstances) unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court, in an unanimous judgment authored by Justice Van der Westhuizen (Chief Justice Mogoeng, Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, and Justices Cameron, Froneman, Jafta, Madlanga, Nkabinde, Skweyiya and Zondo, as well as Acting Justice Mhlantla concurred) refused to confirm the High Court’s declaration.  Continue reading

Mansingh and Others v General Council of the Bar and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 43/13 North Gauteng High Court, 09 Feb. 2012
Supreme Court of Appeal, 15 Mar. 2013
22 Aug. 2013 28 Nov. 2013 Nkabinde J. Unanimous

By Greg Palmer and Duncan Wild on 28 November 2013.

The case concerns whether the President’s power to confer ‘honours’ under section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution includes the power to award ‘senior counsel’ or ‘silk’ status to advocates.

The appellant, Ms Mansingh, is a practising advocate and a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates (“the JSA“).  Ms Mansingh successfully sought a declaratory order in the North Gauteng High Court to the effect that section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution does not authorise the President to award ‘senior counsel’ status to advocates.

The General Council of the Bar (“the GCB“) (an affiliation of the ten Societies of Advocates in the country) and the JSA appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (“the SCA“).

Section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution provides as follows:

Powers and functions of the President:

(1) The President has the powers entrusted by the Constitution and legislation, including those necessary to perform the functions of Head of State and head of the national executive.

(2) The President is responsible for –

. . .

(k) conferring honours.”

The JSA and the GCB took the matter on appeal to the SCA, and the SCA concluded that the power to confer honours bestowed upon the President by section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution included the authority to confer the status of ‘senior counsel’ on practising advocates.

The Constitutional Court, in an unanimous judgment authored by Justice Nkabinde, and in which Mogoeng CJ, Moseneke DCJ, Cameron J, Froneman J, Jafta J, Madlanga J, Mhlantla AJ, Skweyiya J, Van der Westhuizen J and Zondo J concurred, also found that the power of conferring honours was sufficiently broad to include the power conferring senior counsel status, and so dismissed the application. Continue reading

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning of the Western Cape v Lagoon Bay Lifestyle Estate (PTY) LTD and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 41/13 Western Cape High Court, 31 Aug. 2011
Supreme Court of Appeal, 15 Mar. 2013
20 Aug. 2013 20 Nov. 2013 Mhlantla AJ Unanimous

By Michael Dafel and Duncan Wild 

This matter pertains to the validity of a decision by the Western Cape provincial government to refuse a proposed development.  Lying at the heart of the matter is the constitutional inter-relationship between the provincial and municipal spheres of government and their powers to rezone and subdivide land.  The potential importance of the Constitutional Court’s decision in this matter lies in the fact that in the relationship between provincial and municipal power in deciding aspects of the same land development.

The Constitutional Court, in an unanimous decision authored by Acting-Justice Mhltantla, did not decide the issue of which level of government the Constitution gave the power to rezone or subdivide land, but did hold that under the applicable legislation the municipality was the competent authority to make the decision on subdivision, and the Provincial Minister the competent authority to decide on the rezoning application. Continue reading

Patrick Lorenz Martin Gaertner and Others v The Minister of Finance and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 56/13 Western Cape High Court, 8 Apr. 2013 12 Sep. 2013 14 Nov. 2013 Madlanga J. Unanimous

This case involves a challenge to the sections of the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964 (“the Customs Act“) which empowers South African Revenue Service (“SARS“) officials to conduct certain searches without the need for a warrant.  

The Constitutional Court, a judgment authored by Madlanga J, in which the Mogoeng CJ, Moseneke DCJ, Cameron J, Froneman J, Jafta J, Mhlantla AJ, Nkabinde J, Skweyiya J, Van der Westhuizen J and Zondo J concurred, found the provisions in question to be overbroad in that SARS officials were “given far-reaching powers (breaking in and breaking floors) that may be exercised anywhere, at whatever time and in relation to whomsoever, with no need for the existence of a reasonable suspicion, irrespective of the type of search”. This constituted an unjustifiable limitation of the right to privacy on so the sections were struck down.  The Constitutional Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for a period of six months to allow Parliament to rectify the defect, and provided that in the interim requires SARS to obtain a warrant from a Magistrate or Judge before conducting searches of private residences. Continue reading

Botha and Another v Rich NO and Others

Case No.  Lower Court Judgments  Hearing Date
CCT 89/13 Northern Cape High Court, 13 Nov. 2009

Northern Cape High Court (Full Bench), 28 Mar. 2013
20 Nov. 2013

By Duncan Wild

The respondents in the this matter are the trustee’s of the JJW Hendriks Trust (“the Trust“) that owned certain property in De Aar. In November 2003 the Trust sold the property to the first respondent, Lorraine Botha (“Botha“) and the parties entered an agreement in accordance with the Alienation of Land Act 68 of 1981 (“the Act“). Of particular relevance, the parties agreed that section 19 of the Act would apply to the agreement, this section provides that the seller my terminate the contract only if: she has notified the purchaser of a breach and called upon the purchaser to rectify the breach in no less than 30 days, and the purchaser has failed to rectify the breach. The agreement stipulated that the purchase price was to be R240,000 and would be paid in installments of R4,000 a month. Continue reading

Ngqukumba v Minister of Safety and Security and Others

Case No.  Lower Court Judgments  Hearing Date
 CCT 71/13 Eastern Cape High Court, 20 Oct. 2011
SCA, 31 May 2013
14 Nov. 2013

By Duncan Wild

In this case the appellant’s motor vehicle was seized by the police acting under the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the Criminal Procedure Act“).  After the vehicle was seized the police discovered that it did not comply with the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 (“the National Road Traffic Act“). The High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal found that the vehicle had been seized unlawfully, but that as it would be unlawful for the appellant to be in possession of a vehicle that did not comply with the National Road Traffic Act, the court not order the return of the vehicle, until it complied with the law. The question before the Constitutional Court is whether it is correct, that despite an unlawful seizure of vehicle, the vehicle may not be returned to its owner if it is discovered that possession of the vehicle would be unlawful.  Continue reading

Grootboom v National Prosecuting Authority & Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
 CCT 08/13 Labour Court, 18 Dec. 2009Labour Appeal Court, 21 Sep. 2012 23 May. 2013 21 Oct. 2013 Bosielo AJ Unanimous

By Michael Dafel and Duncan Wild on 23 October 2013.

This matter stems from a decision by the NPA to invoke section 17(5)(a)(i) of the Public Service Act 103 of 1994 (Act) to discharge the employment services of Mr Grootboom.  In the Constitutional Court, Mr Grootboom seeks an order for that decision to be set aside.

The Constitutional Court, in a judgment authored by Bosielo AJ, in which Moseneke DCJ, Froneman J, Jafta J, Khampepe, J, Mhlantla AJ, Nkabinde J and Skweyiya J concurred) found that the decison to to discharge the services of Mr Grootboom should be set aside, as the requirements of section 17(5)(a)(i) had not been met.  In addition, the Majority found that the NPA’s late filing of answering affidavits and written submissions could not be condoned as there was no proper explanation for the delay.

Justice Zondo wrote an opinion in which he agreed with the order granted by Bosielo AJ, but thought that the late filing of affidavits and written submissions to the court should be condoned.  Continue reading

Food & Allied Workers Union v Ngcobo NO and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 50/13 South Gauteng High Court, 7 Dec. 2011
Supreme Court of Appeal, 30 Nov. 2012
29 Aug. 2013 9 Oct. 2013 Cameron J Unanimous

By Mzukisi Kota and Duncan Wild on 10 October 2013

This case is concerned with the question of whether a trade union is liable for damages to its members where it has failed to perform in terms of a mandate to represent its members in proceedings before the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (“the CCMA”) and the Labour Court.

The Constitutional Court, in an unanimous judgment authored by Justice Cameron (joined by Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, Justices Froneman, Jafta, Madlanga, Nkabinde, Skweyiya, Van der Westhuizen, Zondo and Acting Justice Mhlantla), found that once the Union had undertaken to provide legal assistance to its member, it could not unilaterally withdraw that assistance. If it failed to accord with its agreement with its members, it could be held liable for that failure. So the Constitutional Court refused to grant leave to appeal as there were not prospects of success in the appeal. Continue reading

MEC for Education, Gauteng Province v The Governing Body of the Rivonia Primary School

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 135/12 South Gauteng High Court, 7 Dec. 2011
Supreme Court of Appeal, 30 Nov. 2012
9 May. 2013 3 Oct. 2013 Mhlantla AJ 7-2

By Duncan Wild on 3 October 2013.

The case concerns whether it is the Provincial Department of Education or the governing body of a public school that has the power to determine the number of learners that the school may admit, and whether the Provincial Department of Education may override any determination in this respect by a governing body.

The Constitutional Court, in a judgment authored by Acting Justice Mhlantla with  Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, Justices Froneman, Khampepe, Nkabinde and Skweyiya and Acting Justice Bosielo concurring, found that although the school governing body had the ability to determine the capacity of a school, a Provincial Department maintains ultimate control, and a school’s admission policy cannot inflexibly limit the discretion of the Head of Department. Continue reading