South Africa: Penalties for Protest Conveners Too Severe, Constitutional Court Hears


The Social Justice Coalition has argued in the Constitutional Court that it is unlawful and unconstitutional to criminalise public protests. However, the state contends that doing so is meant to deter unlawful protest and public violence.

On Tuesday, 21 August 2018, the Constitutional Court heard arguments pertaining to an "order of constitutional invalidity" made by the Western Cape High Court in declaring it unconstitutional for the state to make it a criminal offence to hold a protest with more than 15 people without giving prior notice to the responsible officer of a municipality.

Members of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), a social movement that seeks to advance the constitutional rights of people in informal settlements, were found guilty of convening an illegal protest at the Cape Town Civic Centre in September 2013 by the magistrate's court in Bellville, after they had chained themselves to the railing of the building in an attempt to...

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