Cape Law Society: Public protests in our country

Section 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 recognises that everyone has the right to protest peacefully and running parallel with this section are Sections 16 and 18, which provide for the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association, however, these hard fought for rights must be exercised responsibly. The right to protest will exist for as long as we live in a democracy and we encourage members of the public to exercise this right in an orderly, responsible and peaceful manner.

The call to the public to exercise their right to protest peacefully must be accompanied by the call to those in authority to do all in their power to:-

  1. attend to the trust deficit people have in the government;
  2. attend to the grievances of the people with the necessary urgency;
  3. dismiss officials whose lethargy results in the boiling over of the anger of the people;
  4. ensure that organizers of public protests show readiness to control the crowds when a march is being arranged;
  5. ensure that the police partner with the peaceful march in protecting people and property.

Protest action often becomes infiltrated by criminal elements who use the protest action as a guise under which to plunder and perpetrate their nefarious deeds. Such elements must be isolated by the marchers and be held accountable by the law enforcement agencies.

It is in the interests of all in our country that there be consequences when anyone disturbs the peace. Those consequences must extend to the public officials who frustrate the public through their mismanagement of public facilities and services and thereby bring about protest action.

The Cape Law Society Council requests all political parties in our country to consider our suggestions and engage in a wide ranging public debate of that which we all subscribe to with respect to the exercise of our right to protest.

Issued by Mr Lulama Lobi
President of the Cape Law Society on behalf of the Council of the Cape law Society
04 October 2018

The Cape Law Society
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