Constitutional Court 2015: Term 4 preview


3 November 2015 – On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of South Africa begins its fourth and final term of the year.  The Court already has a pile of pending judgments.  With nine more cases to come this term, 2015 might be the Court’s busiest ever year.

The Court’s composition for this term is puzzling.  Justice Froneman is on leave; the two acting judges from last term, Matojane and Wallis, have left; and the Skweyiya vacancy has still, shamefully, not been filled.  (The vacancy, as we are tired of saying, arose eighteen months ago; the interviews of his potential replacements were completed four months ago.)  One imagines that some acting judges, and perhaps a permanent appointee, will be announced before Thursday’s hearing.  But it is distressing that these matters of extreme legal and public importance are continually left so opaque and so late. (Update: On Wednesday, 4 November 2015 the Presidency announced that retired Supreme Court of Appeal judge Robert Nugent had been appointed to act on the Constitutional Court.)

Two cases stand out.  The first, Solidarity v Department of Correctional Services, is a challenge to the Department’s affirmative action policy — and effectively the sequel to last year’s divisive and disappointing Solidarity obo Barnard v National Commissioner of the SAPS [2015] ZACC 23.  The second is the politically charged Democratic Alliance v Speaker of the National Assembly, in which the DA brings a constitutional challenge to section 11 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.  The section was infamously invoked at this year’s State of the Nation Address to have members of the Economic Freedom Fighters forcibly removed.

Here is the full list of cases:

Thursday, 5 November 2015: Democratic Alliance v Speaker, National Assembly CCT 86/15 (court papers)

Monday, 9 November 2015: Tronox KZN Sands (Pty) Ltd v KZN Planning and Development Appeal Tribunal CCT 114/14 (court papers)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: Transport and Allied Workers Union v Putco Ltd CCT 94/15 (court papers)

Thursday, 12 November 2015: Molusi v Voges N.O. CCT 96/15 (court papers)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015: Minister for Environmental Affairs v Aquarius Platinum Ltd CCT 102/15 (court papers)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015: Solidarity v Department of Correctional Services CCT 78/15 (court papers)

Thursday, 19 November 2015: Nkata v First Rand Bank Ltd CCT 73/15 (court papers)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015: Felix v Firstrand Bank t/a Wesbank CCT 89/15 (court papers)

Thursday, 26 November 2015: Minister of Home Affairs v Rahim CCT 124/15 (court papers)

Leo Boonzaier

About Leo Boonzaier

Leo is an Editor for the African Legal Centre, and he reports on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He has BSocSci and LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town and a BCL from the University of Oxford. He has worked as a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, and more recently as a law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Oxford.