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CASAC comments on SAHRC selection process

22 September 2016

CASAC is taking an active interest in the selection of seven members of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). In a media statement issued on 20 September, CASAC initially expressed concern about the way in which the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services was processing the nominations for filling the vacancies, saying the undue haste with which the process was unfolding would detract from any meaningful public participation in the selection process, as envisaged in section 59(1) of the Constitution.

Nominations had closed on Friday 16 September, and the Committee intended to meet on Thursday 22 September to shortlist candidates. The Committee intended to publish the list of nominees by Thursday 22 September. This would leave members of the public and civil society organisations with less than 48 hours in which to consider and comment on the nominees.

However, in a further media statement released today (22 September), CASAC welcomed an adjusted time frame agreed by the Portfolio Committee for filling the seven vacancies, as this would now provide a suitable opportunity for public participation.

The Committee had received 80 nominations for the seven vacancies. Their names were due to be released on the same day (22 September), and the public was invited to comment on their suitability. The deadline for comments would now be Friday 30 September. CASAC intended to make a submission to the Committee. The Committee would then meet on 5 October to shortlist between 15 and 21 candidates, and would interview them on 13 and 14 October.

The statement added: ‘We are pleased that the Committee will engage with civil society and members of the public to ensure that the process is open and transparent, in much the same way that the process of appointing the Public Protector was conducted.’

For the complete statements, see the media statements section.

NPA FEELS STING OF MURPHY’S LAW – by Lawson Naidoo

It will no doubt be argued by some that Judge John Murphy has transgressed the judicial boundaries in making far-reaching findings in the case brought by civil society group, Freedom under Law, in the Richard Mdluli saga.
Not only did the judge order that the decisions not to prosecute Mdluli for murder and associated charges, as well as fraud and corruption, and to terminate the disciplinary proceedings and revoke his suspension, be set aside, he ordered that these various charges be reinstated forthwith, and prosecuted diligently and without delay. Judge Murphy delivered a detailed, reasoned judgment within two weeks of hearing the matter, an example many of his colleagues on the bench would do well to follow.
Whilst the case raises critical issues about the separation of powers under our constitutional democracy, the factual findings lay bare a grim picture of the extent to which those tasked with the responsibility to uphold law and order have bent over backwards to protect a high profile and seemingly influential figure such as the former Head of Crime Intelligence in the SAPS. The case lists among its respondents the Acting NDPP, the head of the Special Commercial Crimes Unit, the National Police Commissioner and the Minister of Police.
The Constitution confers on the NPA the power to institute criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state and enjoins it to exercise this power without fear, favour or prejudice. This is a broad and weighty power but not an unrestrained one. The court rejected the argument that the power to review prosecution decisions vested solely in the NDPP. Judge Murphy ruled that the decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are not immune from judicial review even though the Promotion of Administrative justice Act (PAJA) specifically excludes from its purview decisions to institute or continue a prosecution. Murphy found that decisions not to prosecute or to continue a prosecution are reviewable under PAJA as well as on the basis of legality or rationality. Those wielding public power must do so in a manner that is transparent, reasonable, lawful and accountable.
Under the Prosecutions Policy which guides the functioning of the NPA, once there is sufficient evidence indicating reasonable prospects for a conviction, a prosecution should follow unless the public interest demands otherwise. In this case the public interest would appear to demand that a senior police officer charged with serious offences such as murder, kidnapping, fraud and corruption should be prosecuted.
Murphy ruled that Lawrence Mrwebi did not possess the power to withdraw the fraud and corruption charges without the concurrence of the Director of Public Prosecutions for North Gauteng, and that he did not secure such agreement. Mrwebi’s decision flagrantly violated the Prosecution Policy and was unlawful.
The DPP for South Gauteng sought to justify the withdrawal of the murder and related charges on the basis of there being no direct evidence linking Mdluli to the murder of Oupa Ramogibe, the husband of Mdluli’s former lover. The DPP relied on the finding of the inquest he had initiated to support this decision. Murphy found that, on the contrary, the ‘evidence presents a compelling
prima facie case against Mdluli’. He also stressed that an inquest is not an appropriate forum to determine the culpability of any person; it is an investigative process aimed at determining the cause of death – there was no dispute that Ramogibe had been shot! The inquest was also restricted to looking at the issue of murder and could therefore not be relied upon to justify the decision to quash the 17 associated charges of attempted murder, assault, kidnapping etc.
The Acting Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi had informed Parliament that he took the decision to withdraw the disciplinary charges against Mdluli in February 2012 on instructions from authorities or persons ‘beyond him’. Despite the hackneyed protestations by National Commissioner, Riah Phiyega that Mkhwanazi was ‘quoted out of context’ no evidence to this effect was proffered. Whilst Mkhwanazi did not disclose who exactly instructed him, we should perhaps commend him for exposing the fact that hidden hands and hidden agendas exist in the upper reaches of the criminal justice system. Murphy however castigates Mkhwanazi for succumbing to this pressure and failing to protect the integrity of SAPS.
The case therefore constitutes an embarrassing defeat for the NPA and the SAPS. That the judgment of Murphy will be appealed will surprise no one because if it stands it may have grave consequences for President Zuma in his quest to now avoid ‘having his day in court’. Regardless of the outcome of any appeal there are some inescapable conclusions to be drawn from the case.
Firstly the improper interference of unknown persons in the functioning of SAPS does not bode well for the shiny new Hawks unit which has been seeking to persuade the Cape High Court that it is insulated from undue political influence under the amended SAPS Act. Mkhwanazi’s experience will expose the porous Chinese walls that SAPS has been seeking to build around the Hawks.
Secondly, Glynnis Breytenbach will now feel vindicated having consistently maintained that she was suspended and faced disciplinary charges in order to prevent her from pursuing the fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli.
Thirdly, Murphy was scathing in his criticism of the manner in which the Acting NDPP, Nomgcobo Jiba and Mrwebi managed the case – he was moved to state: “The attitude of the respondents signals a troubling lack of appreciation of the constitutional ethos and principles underpinning the offices they hold”. Their dilatory and less than co-operative attitude towards the court in this case comes close to contempt of court; directions from the Deputy Judge President were ignored and flouted, affidavits were filed months late, and full information was not disclosed to the court. It is now clear that neither Jiba nor Mrwebi are fit and proper persons to hold office in the NPA.
The newly appointed NDPP, Mxolisi Nxasana, assumes office on 1 October – it he is to succeed in restoring the credibility of the NPA, there needs to be a clear-out of those bringing the NPA into disrepute – as a start steps should be instituted to remove Jiba and Mrwebi from office.
Lawson Naidoo is the Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC)

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY STATEMENT

20 March 2013

In the year since the last Human Rights Day, our world has changed dramatically. South Africa is no longer the country it was a year ago. We have entered a precarious new period of our history in which some of our worst nightmares return to haunt us.

On 17th August last year, we woke up to a South Africa over which a dark shadow had been cast by a police force that had mown down 34 protesters at Marikana.

As CASAC’s Chairman Sipho Pityana said on that day:

“The photos of the bodies of dead protesters filled me with horror and I was forced to ask myself: Is this 2012 or is it 1985 or even 1976?”

Of course, 21 March is the date chosen as Human Rights Day because of the Sharpeville Massacre of the same date in 1960. And so, now, in 2013 we are forced to face the fact that history has repeated itself – this time not under an illegitimate, Apartheid government but under a democratically elected government.

Sadly, the Marikana Massacre was not the only terrible event to scar the nation in the past 12 months.

Most recently, the grotesquely brutal treatment of Mido Macia by the police, in broad daylight and in full view of scores of witnesses, proved how deeply rooted the culture of violence and abuse of human rights is within our police force.

Sipho Pityana said today:
“The leadership of the SA Police Service has yet to show the appropriate level of remorse and a willingness to take responsibility for what has happened. The testimony of National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on 19 March did little to change this perception. They do not appear able or willing to acknowledge the seriousness of what has happened and the harm that such human rights abuses do to the reputation of South Africa and its prospects of securing dignity and prosperity for all. “

Earlier this year, the savage rape and murder of Anene Booysen shocked a nation – a horrific reminder of the extent to which gender-based violence is endemic in our society.

We fear that these events represent the tip of an iceberg that threatens to undermine our democratic constitutional project.

Urgent action is required.
So, just as happened in 1960 after Sharpeville, we must mobilize support for human rights and challenge those who perpetrate abuses of human rights.

Human Rights Day 2013 must mark the start of a new period in which we collectively re-commit to the vision of the constitution and the values of human dignity, equality and freedom that underpin it.

As retired Justice Zac Yacoob said earlier this week:
“The passing of the Constitution does not mean we have the true recognition of human rights in our society … the fact that the Constitution guarantees them does not mean that we have them. We need to change ourselves and ask whether we are truly non-racial, non-sexist … we do not wish to live in a society where vulnerable people are trampled upon…”

We must say, as we once said before: No More!

No more Anene Booysens! No more Andries Tatanes! No more Mido Macias! No more Marikanas!

The leadership of our country – in government and in the private sector – must stand up and be counted.

Where necessary, as in the case of the police services, they must be held to account.

Above all, the Bill of Rights must be respected.

Enquiries:
Lawson Naidoo
073 158 5736
Lawson@www.casac.org.za

Anene Booysen: A mirror of our society

Article published in the Sunday Indenpendent – Nomboniso Gasa (CASAC Programme Manager)

It is a struggle to make sense of the enormity of the death of Anene Booysen. Many have expressed outrage, anger and pain. Across the country, people ask, for how long can we let this continue?

Inspired by the public response to the rape and murder of Joytri in India, some are urging South Africans to rise in their millions and say “enough is enough”. For many, it seems, we South Africans have become desensitised and even indifferent to the crimes perpetuated against infants, girls, children, women and the vulnerable in our society.

Read more: http://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/anene-booysen-a-mirror-of-our-society-1.1467392

MEDIA ALERT: BEWARE OF MISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN ON THE TRADITIONAL COURTS BILL

On 29 November a report was compiled by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) titled “Controversial Traditional Courts Bill Withdrawn”, written by Dennis Cruywagen.

The report erroneously states that “The controversial Traditional Courts Bill is to be withdrawn and will not be brought before Parliament any time soon. This was a unanimous decision taken at its last meeting of the year [28 November], by Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development.”

The latest ANC Today Newsletter also misreports that the Bill has been withdrawn.

Members of the Alliance for Rural Democracy were present at the Select Committee meeting, on 28 November, to which the false reports refer. We can confirm that the matter of the Bill’s withdrawal was neither discussed nor decided upon.

The Bill has not been withdrawn and is currently being debated by the provinces. The provincial mandates on the Bill are due to be debated by the Select Committee next year. That the Bill remains firmly on the agenda has also been confirmed by the Select Committee’s Secretary.

“We can only imagine that the ANC is involved in a misinformation campaign aimed at misleading its own members in the run up to the ANC Conference in Mangaung. This underhanded move is precisely because rural people have consistently opposed this Bill”, says Sizani Ngubane of the Rural Women’s Movement, a member of the Alliance.

We call on the GCIS and the ANC to cease this misinformation campaign and issue the necessary corrections in regard to the status of the Bill.

Issued by the Alliance for Rural Democracy, 5 December 2012

For more information contact
• Sizani Ngubane – Rural Women’s Movement: 073 8405151
• Aninka Claassens – Law, Race and Gender Research Unit: 084 5102333

The Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) is a cross-section of civil society organisations sharing a common concern about the detrimental effects that the Traditional Courts Bill will have on the rural constituencies they serve and support. The ARD includes the following organisations: Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA); Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape (CLC);Corruption Watch; Co-operative Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC); Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC);Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town (DGRU); Embrace Dignity Campaign; Empilisweni AIDS Education and Training Centre; Greater Rape Intervention Programme (GRIP);Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR);Justice and Women (JAW); Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA);Law Race and Gender Research Unit, University of Cape Town (LRG); Lesbian and Gay Equality Project; Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre; Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC);Rural People’s Movement; Rural Women’s Movement; Rural Health Advocacy Project; Section 27; Sonke Gender Justice; South African Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative (CLASI); Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ); Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Project (TVEP);Treatment Action Campaign (TAC);Triangle Project; Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC); Unemployed People’s Movement; Women’s Health Research Unit in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town; Women’s Legal Centre Trust. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) acts as legal advisor to the Alliance.

Media Statement by the Advisory Council of CASAC on the impact of Marikana on South Africa’s constitutional order

3 October 2012

We believe that Marikana represents a turning point in South Africa’s post-apartheid history. The question is: in what direction will we now go?

The serious violations of fundamental constitutional rights that the Farlam Commission must investigate with regard to Marikana are, in fact, a common reality for far too many people who live in South Africa.

The credibility and legitimacy of the police is in tatters. The needless death of Andries Tatane last year was a grave warning of the dangers of the militarisation of the police force and the inadequacy of its public order management capacity.

Zones of illegality, painfully reminiscent of our repressive past, blot the landscape.

As a result, civil liberties are now imperilled, as the apparent collapse of the intelligence services and the partisan political use of state security forces render the country vulnerable to destabilisation –undermining our future prospects and prosperity, and which, more than anything, hurts the poorest members of our society the hardest.

The ‘state of emergency’, in deed if not in law, that has been in existence in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre demonstrates the duplicitous role of the government swarm intelligence and its security forces. A repressive clampdown with the rule of law seemingly suspended has engulfed the communities grappling with the trauma and grief of the massacre.

The basis on which the police conducted search and seizure operations in the early hours of Saturday 15 September remains unclear; on the same day rubber bullets were again used resulting in the death of ANC Councillor, Pauline Masulo; marches organised by the Women of Marikana have been banned; individuals have been prevented from addressing meetings of workers for no apparent good legal reason; and there have been numerous arrests of workers in other platinum mines in recent weeks – these are all occurrences associated with the repressive apartheid regime in the 1980s. 2

Now is the time to draw a line in the sand and to demand a renewed commitment to the Constitution, its progressive vision of socio-economic transformation, and its principled commitment to the rule of law.

We submit that Marikana cannot be examined in isolation of the socio-economic and political context in which it occurred – a context in which a dangerous culture of intolerance and political violence has persisted, and in which the ability to process peaceful dialogue and to mediate industrial relations has been lost.

The system of collective bargaining established by the 1995 Labour Relations Act has also been dangerously undermined.

Rightly, the Commission’s Terms of Reference require it to consider corporate responsibility. The imperative of creating new decent jobs, with a living wage, has to be a shared social obligation.

Thus must we all reflect candidly on the causes of this crisis, recognising its various components, which include: structural weaknesses in State institutions that have permitted a culture of impunity in the use of State power to grow; acute failure of leadership in both government and in the ANC; deep rifts in and between trade unions; unacceptable levels of wage inequality; the root causes of chronic poverty and long-term unemployment.

While recognizing and affirming the right of all workers to embark on industrial action, to associate freely and enjoy the right to freedom of expression, a society established on the basis of constitutional norms cannot countenance the persistent violence and sense of lawlessness that characterises many public gatherings, strikes and protests. We appeal to all people to exercise the right of assembly without bearing arms and weapons of any kind, and to desist from engaging in acts of violence and intimidation.

We must also acknowledge the fact that the ANC’s looming national elective congress is contributing to the heightened levels of intolerance and conflict as factions within the ANC jostle for power.

There is a conservative trajectory within elements in the ruling party that betrays the noble objectives of the liberation struggle, and which threatens the idea of progressive constitutionalism that was at the heart of the post-1994 social compact. The ANC’s Mangaung Conference will likely determine whether that trajectory is hastened or rejected.

In short, progressive politics are under threat. Progressive organisations and movements must inject new energy and commitment into their efforts to protect our constitutional order, and must commit to work together to pursue rights and secure human dignity.

As the Farlam Commission begins its work in earnest, it must mark the start not only of an open process of unrelenting, unconditional search for the truth about what happened on 16 August, and why, but also a new chapter in our collective resolve to build a society that reflects the vision of our Constitution.

It is an opportunity that must be grasped. The government must do everything possible to ensure that the Commission can do its work, with full access to all relevant information, as well as to all role-players and decision-makers within both the police and the wider security establishment. Any 3

suggestion that evidence is being suppressed or bad decision-making covered up will do untold harm not just to the search for accountability and justice, but to the families of the victims of Marikana.

Their needs and concerns must be the central concern during this time. CASAC calls on the Commission to put the families at the forefront of the Commission and to ensure that they have appropriate support, whether in the form of provision of transport and accommodation so that they might attend the hearings, or in the form of ensuring effective legal representation, and extending to offering counselling for the tragedy they have suffered.

The barbarity and violence of 16 August must be replaced by civility and a newfound respect for human life.

 

Honorary Members

 

: Bobby Godsell, Emma Mashinini, Roelf Meyer, Prof Njabulo Ndebele

 

Advisory Council Members

 

: Prof Cathi Albertyn, Mr Oupa Bodibe, Prof Richard Calland, Prof Hugh Corder, Adv Susannah Cowen, Prof Pierre de Vos, Mr Mukelani Dimba, Adv Fanie du Toit, Ms Jackie Dugard, Mr Ebrahim Fakir, Ms Judith February, Ms Isobel Frye, Ms Nomboniso Gasa, Dr Frene Ginwala, Prof Adam Habib, Adv Adila Hassim, Mr Sello Hatang, Mr Mazibuko Jara, Prof Sandra Liebenberg, Dr Tshepo Madlingozi, Ms Basetsana Molebatsi, Mr Mosibudi Mangena, Ms Sisonke Msimang, Mr Lawson Naidoo, Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Dr Nomfundo Ngwenya, Prof Velile Notshulwana, Ms Liepollo Pheko, Sipho M. Pityana (Chairman),Adv Paul Pretorius SC, Bishop Jo Seoka, Adv Tseliso Thipanyane, Mr Siyabonga Titi, Adv Wim Trengove SC, Mr Mathatha Tsedu, Adv Faranaaz Veriava