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North Gauteng High Court finds in favour of the SAHRC
Friday, 05 August 2011

The Commission is pleased to announce that the North Gauteng High Court upheld with costs, its appeal against the 2008 judgment of the Lydenburg Equality Court which dismissed its complaint against allegations of hate speech and the use of insulting language. The High Court also held that this matter be referred back to the Equality Court to be heard afresh in accordance with the Equality Act.

This matter relates to a complaint which was lodged with the Commission by the complainant, Mr Letswano Johannes Baloyi, who alleged that the respondent, Mr Deon Labuschagne, referred to him using the K-word during an argument on a farm on 07 December 2007. After its receipt of the complaint the Commission proceeded to lodge papers with the Equality Court on his behalf in terms of the Equality Act.

The respondent, who is the farm owner, is alleged to have been angry after Mr Baloyi, who is a tenant on the farm, erected a tent for a wedding allegedly without the respondent’s consent.

The Equality Court, however, proceeded to dismiss this matter after the respondent pointed out during the proceedings that an affidavit which contained negative allegations concerning him had been placed in the court file without being served on or provided to him ahead of the trial. This was however denied by the Commission.

The court further proceeded to grant an order of punitive cost de bonis propiis against the Commission citing that the content of the affidavit which was prepared by the complainant’s witness would prejudice the respondent and render the trial unfair.

In its appeal papers the Commission argued that by dismissing this matter without even providing it with the opportunity to argue its merits, the court did not apply its mind properly and also acted unfairly.

The Commission is of the view that there is no reason why the affidavit, which the complainant considered relevant, could not be provided accordingly and that the clerk of the Equality Court could have provided it to the respondent, but apparently did not do so.

Furthermore, the mere presence of the documents in the court file did not negatively affect the proceedings and the court should have merely directed that a copy be provided to the respondent with sufficient time being afforded to the respondent to prepare for the proceedings, and then proceed to hear this matter on the day or at a future date.

The Commission will provide details as soon as it lodges new papers with the Equality Court.

ENDS
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