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Judgment in 'right to protest' case reserved

Right to Know and the Social Justice Coalition say there’s clearly a drive by the State to softly infringe on the rights of citizens to protest and convene.

FILE: Right to Know and the Social Justice Coalition say there’s clearly a drive by the State to softly infringe on the rights of citizens to protest and convene. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Judgment has been reserved in the Constitutional Court in a case that centres on the rights of citizens to protest.

On Tuesday, the court heard arguments from lawyers for the Social Justice Coalition, Right to Know and Equal Education as well as the State.

Earlier this year, a Western Cape High Court judge overturned the conviction of 10 coalition members who were found guilty of convening an illegal protest in Cape Town back in 2013.

The police minister then turned to the Constitutional Court in a bid to have the judgment appealed.

Right to Know and the Social Justice Coalition say there’s clearly a drive by the State to softly infringe on the rights of citizens to protest and convene.

The organisations say Section 12(1)(a) of the Regulation of Gatherings Act needs to change because it stifles the right to protest.

Right to Know’s Thami Nkosi said: “The State is auguring, therefore, to say protests generally degenerate to be violent and we argued to say they must give us the evidence.”

Nkosi says winning this case would be a landmark victory.

“You can see how skewed this thing is primarily because people that would protest are poor, black people who would be frustrated with bureaucracies in the government and elsewhere.”

A date for judgment is yet to be set.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)