ConCourt ruling a victory for expression of opinion in SA, says rights institute

23 October 2019 - 10:59 By ERNEST MABUZA
The Constitutional Court declared on Tuesday that two sections of the Intimidation Act are unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court declared on Tuesday that two sections of the Intimidation Act are unconstitutional.
Image: NICOLENE OLCKERS/GALLO IMAGES

The declaration by the Constitutional Court that two sections of the Intimidation Act were unconstitutional was one step closer towards eradicating the abuse of the criminal justice system to silence dissent. 

This was the reaction by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute after the judgment by the court on Tuesday.

The institute represented General Alfred Moyo, an activist who was charged with “intimidating” the station commander of the Primrose Police Station in Germiston, in terms of section 1(1)(b) of the Intimidation Act.

The case emanated from a criminal charge laid against Moyo after an attempt by him and other residents of the Makause Community Development Forum, a community-based organisation in Makause informal settlement, to hold a march protesting against alleged police brutality in Primrose in 2012.

The institute said it had consistently argued that section 1(1)(b) of the Intimidation Act was unconstitutional, as it criminalised any speech or conduct which created a state of fear in the person towards whom the speech or conduct was directed.

“This drastically limits the right to freedom of expression found in section 16 of the constitution,” the institute said in a statement.

The institute’s attorney, Nkosinathi Sithole, said this judgment was a vindication of the rights to freedom of expression.

“It is a vindication not only for Mr Moyo but for our constitutional democracy. It is one step closer towards eradicating the abuse of the criminal justice system to silence dissent,” Sithole said. 


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