Dengetenge Holdings (Pty) Limited v Southern Sphere Mining and Development Company Limited and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 39/13 North Gauteng High Court, 17 Jun. 2011
Supreme Court of Appeal, 11 Mar. 2013
15 Aug. 2013 13 Dec. 2013  Jafta J  8-3

By Avani Singh and Duncan Wild on 18 December 2013.

After the record had been filed in the matter in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA“), the appeal lapsed for failure by the appellant, Dengetenge Holdings (Pty) Limited (“Dengetenge”), to prosecute it by timeously filing its heads of argument. The issue for determination before the SCA was whether the default should be condoned and the appeal revived.

The majority of the Constitutional Court, in a judgment written by Jafta J, found that leave to appeal should be granted, but that the appeal should be dismissed. Justice Jafta also found, in respect of the High Court judgment, that Dengetenge had not first utilsed the internal appeal before going to the High Court, but that regardless, Dengetenge had conceded in the High Court that the rights were awarded to it unlawfully.  

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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

S v Nabolisa

Case No.
Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author

KwaZulu-Natal High Court, 4 May 2011
SCA, 1 Oct. 2012
7 Mar. 2013

12 Jun. 2013 Jafta J. 7-3

Mr Frank Nabolisa was convicted, along with his co-accused Mrs Cheryl Cwele, of dealing in dangerous dependence-producing drugs.  He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, and on appeal the SCA upheld his conviction and increased his sentence to 20 years. Mrs Cwele did not appeal.

Mr Nabolisa alleges in his appeal against both his sentence and conviction on the following bases: (1) the High Court and SCA infringed his right to a fair trial by not allowing him to present certain evidence; (2) the High Court and SCA erred in interpreting the Drug Trafficking Act 140 and 1992 to apply to a situation where the drugs in question were not collected nor imported into South Africa (the alleged trafficking happened in Brazil); and (3) the SCA is not empowered to increase a sentence where the State has not appealed the sentence imposed by the High Court.

On the third point, the majority of the Constitutional Court, in a judgment authored by Justice Jafta (in which Chief Justice Mogoeng and Justices Froneman, Khampepe, Mhlanta AJ, Nkabinde and Zondo concurred) found that without a formal notice of appeal by the State against the sentence imposed, the State cannot merely notify the court of its appeal against the sentence in written argument before the appeal court. Without such a formal appeal in accordance with section 316 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the issue was not properly before the SCA, and hence the increase in Mr Nabolisa’s sentence should be set aside. The majority therefore set aside the sentence imposed by the SCA, reinstating the 12 year sentence imposed by the High Court.

Justice Skweyiya wrote a minority judgment (in which Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke and Justice van der Westhuizen concurred) finding that there was a long established practice that the State could motivate an increase in sentence where the accused brings an appeal without the need to bring a formal cross-appeal. The minority found that the sentence issue had been fully argued in the SCA and Mr Nabolisa had adequate notice that the State would seek an increase in his sentence. According to the minority there was no irregularity or unfairness and so they would not have interfered with the SCA’s order to increase Mr Nabolisa’s sentence.

Download the judgment here.

eThekwini Municipality v Ingonyama Trust

Case No.  Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 80/12 KwaZulu-Natal High Court, 23 Dec. 2010 
SCA, 1 June 2012
12 Feb. 2013 28 Mar. 2013 Jafta J. Unanimous

The Ingonyama Trust (“the Trust“) took over ownership of various land that had been held, prior to 1994, by the Government of KwaZulu Natal “for the benefit, material welfare and social-well-being of the [designated] tribes and communities“.  The question before the Constitutional Court is whether the Rating of State Property Act 79 of 1984 (“the Rating Act“), which exempts “State property…held by the State in trust for inhabitants of the area of jurisdiction of a local municipality” from paying rates to any local authority, applies to this land.  In other words, whether the Ingonyama Trust can be considered “the State” for the purposes of the Ratings Act.

As a preliminary point though, the Constitutional Court considered the lateness of the eThekwini Municipality’s (“the Municipality’s“) application for leave to appeal.  The SCA delivered its judgment on 1 June 2012, but the Municipality’s application for leave to appeal was lodged on 28 August 2012, more than two months late.

The Constitutional Court, in a unanimous judgment authored by Justice Jafta, considered the application primarily as a procedural one.  The Constitutional Court decided whether it should accept the Municipality’s application for condonation of the late filing.  It did so considering two elements, first whether there was an acceptable justification put forward for the late filing; and second, whether it was in the interests of justice in the circumstances to grant condonation. Continue reading