Activists await court judgment over poor sanitation protest

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The Constitutional Court is on Monday expected to deliver judgment on the matter of 10 activists who were convicted for protesting over poor sanitation without giving notice at the Cape Town Civic Centre in 2013.

The group had chained themselves to the centre’s railing, waiting for the Mayor’s response as they demanded answers over poor sanitation in Khayelitsha.

The Western Cape High Court overturned the convictions in January this year, declaring the relevant legislation unconstitutional because it criminalises peaceful protests.

The Social Justice Coalition has asked the ConCourt to confirm the High Court’s ruling, while the Police Minister is opposing the application.

The Western Cape High Court has already declared Section 12(1)(a) of the Regulation of Gatherings Act unconstitutional, saying the limitation is not reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society, based on the values of freedom, dignity and equality.

During the hearing in August, the Social Justice Coalition said it was an injustice that its members could not find employment because they have criminal records for merely engaging in a peaceful demonstration.

The Minister of Police countered by saying the section serves to deter anyone from engaging in unlawful protests, and to prevent potential violence.

The case coincides with World Toilet Day which is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.