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High Court interim ruling in the matter between Sanef and other organisations vs. Parliament

Sanef Statement 10 March 2015

The Western Cape High Court today handed down part judgment in the matter between Sanef and other parties against Parliament.

Sanef and the other organisations filed a two part urgent application last month. The first part dealt with the jamming of cellphone signal in Parliament during the State of the Nation Address. The second part related to the rules of Parliament governing the broadcast of grave disturbances in the House which direct that such disturbances not be broadcast.

The applicants had asked the court to grant interim relief that would effectively suspend the rules pending a determination of their constitutionality. The Court declined to grant the interim order arguing that no irreparable harm would be suffered by both the applicants and the public as the final hearing on the second part is scheduled for April 20.

Sanef has noted the interim judgment of the court and the fact that it is not based on the merits of the legal issues raised. Sanef is pleased that the court has taken our application seriously: firstly by appointing a full bench to hear it and secondly by insisting on a full hearing.

We further appreciate the court’s acknowledgment of the serious constitutional issues that our application raises and that the court is prepared to deal with the constitutional validity of the rules of Parliament.

Parliament’s representative had argued that the court should not instruct the legislature on how to run its proceedings as it would undermine the principle of separation of powers.  In this regard the court ruled: “In our view, an order of court directed at compliance with the provisions of the Constitution would not undermine the principle of separation of powers.”

It’s clear from the interim judgment that the court wants to appraise itself of our argument and those of the defendants fully before a final judgment is handed down.

We are finalising the additional affidavits as required by the court.

For Inquiries:

Sanef Chairperson: Mpumelelo Mkhabela 082 296 2541
Sanef Media Freedom Committee Chairperson: Adriaan Basson 082 562 2113