On Monday, 29 June 2020, the full bench of the High Court in Johannesburg delivered a judgment declaring section 13 (7) (c) of the South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 (the SAPS Act) constitutionally invalid.
The full bench found that the former Provincial Commissioner failed to apply her mind to the template-based applications for the authorisations which led to the warrantless raids of the applicants’ homes and simply rubber stamped the applications brought to her. The raids in the residents’ homes were “carried out in a manner that was cruel, humiliating, degrading and invasive” and demonstrate an egregious abuse of, and infringement of the residents’ constitutional rights to privacy and dignity, the court held.
The full bench held that the decisions to issue the authorisations fall to be set aside, in terms of sections 6(2)(e)(i) and (ii) of PAJA respectively, as they were issued for a reason not authorised by section 13(7) of the SAPS Act and for an ulterior purpose or motive which is to intimidate the applicants into vacating the so-called ‘hijacked buildings’.
In its judgment, the court ordered the legislature to cure the constitutional defect within 24 months and pending the correction the section is to be read as excluding any private home and/or any person inside such private home.
Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI attorney representing the residents said: “The courts continue to interpret the constitution in a way that vindicates the rights of the poor. Because of this judgment poor residents of the inner city can enjoy their homes without the fear of being raided by the police.”