An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
MEDIA STATEMENT BY CASAC
18 April 2011
The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) welcomes the decision taken by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to lay charges against six of the police officers allegedly responsible for the assault and murder of Andries Tatane. We are pleased that swift action has been taken to bring to justice those whose actions outraged the nation.
We are eager to ensure that in addition to the rights of the family of the deceased being protected, the constitutional rights of freedom of association, of assembly and freedom of expression are also duly respected.
CASAC has been in contact with the family of Andries Tatane, and has offered to provide legal support including a watching brief over the criminal prosecution of the six police officers, as well as exploring other legal remedies that the family may wish to pursue. A representative of CASAC is scheduled to meet with Lefu Tatane, brother, of Andries, in Ficksburg tomorrow (Tuesday 19 April). The SA Human Rights Commission and CASAC will co-operate in ay civil claim that the family may elect to launch.
A formal complaint regarding the excessive and unjustified use of force that led to the killing of Andries Tatane has also been lodged with the Human Rights Commission by CASAC. We have specifically requested an investigation into:
The Chairman of CASAC, Sipho M Pityana, has also sent an open letter to the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, calling on the government to review its approach to the policing of citizen protests. The letter further requests the Minister to urgently make a statement to Parliament setting out the action he proposes to take to ensure public confidence in the police, and to instruct the National Commissioner of Police to seek an engagement with the Portfolio Committee on Police regarding the issue of public order policing. The full text of the open letter is available at www.casac.org.za.
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