ConCourt affirms right of groups to protest and gather peacefully

ConCourt judges sitting
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The Constitutional Court has affirmed the right of groups to protest and gather peacefully. It has upheld a Western Cape High Court ruling that the laws used to convict 10 activists in 2013, was unconstitutional.

The Social Justice Coalition activists were arrested for protesting over poor sanitation in informal settlements, like Khayelitsha.

The Magistrate’s Court had found them guilty of contravening the Gatherings Act that required them to give notice of their protest action.

The High Court overturned the convictions in January this year and declared that the legislation was unconstitutional and had the effect of criminalising peaceful protests.

The Police Minister argued that the law was in place to deter people from engaging in unlawful protests and to prevent violence.

The Constitutional Court handed down the landmark ruling on Monday.

Xola Mlungisi Petse Acting Concourt Judge says: “The court has decided to confirm the high court’s declaration of invalidity. It holds that criminalising the failure to give notice of an assembly of more than 15 people limits the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed.”