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ConCourt finds parts of Rica unconstitutional

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism approached the apex court for confirmation of the High Court’s 2017 decision.

FILE: Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - The Constitutional Court has on Thursday confirmed a Gauteng High Court ruling that parts of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (RICA) are unconstitutional.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism approached the apex court for confirmation of the High Court’s 2017 decision.

READ MORE: Why the RICA Act has been declared unlawful

In a majority judgment written by Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, the Constitutional Court dismissed appeals lodged by the minister of state security and the minister of police and has ordered them to pay costs.

AmaBhungane’s managing partner Sam Sole got hard evidence in 2015 that his communications were being intercepted and went to the Gauteng High Court. It found in 2017 that parts of RICA - the act governing the interception of communications - were unlawful.

Now, the highest court in the land has agreed that parts of RICA are unconstitutional.

Justice Madlanga handed down judgment on Thursday morning: “At the heart of this matter is the right to privacy; an important right which, according to this court, embraces the right to be free from intrusions and interference by the State and others in one’s personal life.”

Madlanga said RICA failed to provide for subjects of surveillance to be notified afterwards and offered no safeguards to ensure the judge granting permission for surveillance was sufficiently independent. It also failed to provide safeguards where the surveillance targets were journalists – who are duty-bound to protect their sources’ identity – and lawyers, who must observe client confidentiality.

The Constitutional Court has given Parliament 36 months to deal with the defects in RICA.

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