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The Centre for Constitutional Rights writes regular articles on topical issues, participates in the national debate on constitutional issues and interacts with government and interested groups with a view to upholding constitutional rights and values.

ARTICLE: FORMER PRESIDENT ZUMA AND THE STATE CAPTURE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

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The importance of a clear understanding of the procedural issues involved in the Zondo Commission when considering Former President Zuma’s allegations of “victimisation” 

On 15 July 2019, embattled former President Jacob Zuma appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector including organs of State (State Capture Commission). This, amidst much public speculation whether he would testify or not. The South African public, hungry for accountability, eagerly and skeptically watched the former ‘Number One’ - well known for his Stalingrad tactics - appear before the Commission. The former President did not disappoint them: as expected, his legal counsel played into his well-established narrative of victimisation. His allegations of procedural unfairness were followed by Mr Zuma’s own testimony of historical conspiracies by foreign and local intelligence agents to eliminate him. Mr Zuma further alleged that the State Capture Commission was the latest episode in this plot to discredit him and that Mr Ramatlhodi, whose testimony before the State Capture Commission had implicated Zuma, was a spy. This was all before the lunch-break. 

STATEMENT: EMPOWERING BRIGHT YOUNG MINDS

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CFCR JOB SHADOWING PROGRAMME - JULY 2019 

Since 2016, the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) has hosted a Job Shadowing Programme, aimed at high school learners seeking an opportunity to experience the legal profession. The Programme is offered in conjunction with one of the CFCR’s long-time partners, Salesian Life Choices. The students come from disadvantaged backgrounds yet are among the highest performers in their respective schools. The Leaders Quest programme at Salesians Life Choices aims to provide the learners with tutoring services, career guidance, leadership workshops and more. 

CASE DISCUSSION: DIVORCE AND MAINTENANCE ARRANGEMENTS - S AND S AND ANOTHER

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On 27 June 2019, the Constitutional Court declared section 16(3) of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013 (the Act) constitutional. Section 16(3) of the Act states that spouses cannot appeal maintenance pending litigation, costs of pending matrimonial actions, interim custody of a child, or interim access to a child. Further, the Constitutional Court held that Rule 43 of the Uniform Rules of Court - regarding spousal relief for maintenance pending litigation, costs of matrimonial action, interim custody of child, and interim access to child - can be read expansively in light of section 16(3) of the Act.

According to Statistics South Africa - as cited by Nicholls AJ in the present case - 25 326 divorce orders were granted in 2016, 55% of which involved children. Applicants in Rule 43 cases most often involve low-income women. Nicholls AJ notes that gender imbalances at home are often exacerbated by courtrooms, when institutional failures prevent the enforcement of maintenance orders. This lack of enforcement has a very negative impact upon the health and financial wellbeing of women and children. The Constitutional Court proceeded with the present case with an awareness of the infringement of women and children’s rights, to protect and uphold the interests of vulnerable sectors of society. 

CASE DISCUSSION: DOMESTIC WORKER COMPENSATION - SYLVIA BONGI MAHLANGU V THE MINISTER OF LABOUR

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On 23 May 2019, the North Gauteng High Court (the Court) issued an order declaring section 1(xix)(v) of the Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 (COIDA) unconstitutional and invalid to the extent that it explicitly excludes domestic workers employed in private households from the definition of “employee”. The Court also ordered that the section be severed from section 1 of COIDA, and under consideration is whether the amendment will apply retrospectively. 

For over 25 years, domestic workers have been excluded from COIDA’s protections. There are over one million domestic workers in South Africa, 96% of whom are women and 91% of whom are black. Domestic work is one of the lowest paying occupations in the labour market, due in large part to wage discrimination and limited bargaining power. The low status of domestic workers in society and their limited bargaining power in the labour market renders them susceptible to exploitation and abuse. The deprivation of benefits of social insurance under COIDA only serves to further marginalise them and entrench pre-existing inequalities.

ARTICLE: THE NINE LIVES OF JIBA AND MRWEBI

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The Constitutional Court (the Court) today handed down judgment in the General Council of the Bar of South Africa v Jiba and Others matter. The Court dismissed the General Council of the Bar’s (GCB) application for leave to appeal the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that found that both Jiba and Mrwebi should not be not removed from the Roll of Advocates. 

Jiba and Mrwebi were initially struck from the Roll of Advocates in September 2016, after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria (the High Court) agreed with the GCB that they were neither fit nor proper to be advocates. Section 7(2) of the Admission of Advocates Act states that an advocate may be struck off the Roll of Advocates if the High Court is satisfied that he or she is not a fit and proper person to continue to practise as an advocate. The case was based on the manner in which the pair conducted themselves in the dropping of charges against former Crime Intelligence Head Richard Mdluli in 2011, among others. The High Court was critical of the pair’s conduct in relation to those proceedings.  Furthermore, the High Court found that Jiba and Mrwebi had lied in their affidavits and that they had suppressed information with the intention to mislead the High Court.

ARTICLE: 20 JUNE 2019 - RESISTANCE AND RESILIENCE: REFUGEE RECEPTION IN SOUTH AFRICA

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On June 20, World Refugee Day is internationally observed. This day is dedicated to commemorating the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees, who are forced to flee their countries of origin under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence every day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) theme this year is “With Refugees”, a campaign that encourages civil society and governments to take action to provide access to education, safe shelter, and employment opportunity to refugees. 

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