Muslim marriages must be recognised in South Africa

Cape Town, August 31, 2018 – The Western Cape High Court has ruled that Muslim marriages are valid and should be recognised by the Constitution. Muslim marriages have previously not been recognised as either civil or customary unions. Lawmakers have 24 months to rectify this.

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Questions about new immigration regulations

NOTE: Article first appeared in the Citizen newspaper on June 6, 2014. 

The newly implemented immigration regulations have split up families, as mothers and fathers overseas are now classified as undesirable and banned from South Africa.

In a statement, incoming Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new immigration regulations, implemented on May 26, are an effort to “strengthen security” and avoid the abuses possible under previous immigration laws.

FILE PICTURE: Minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Refilwe Modise.
FILE PICTURE: Minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

“People are now stranded abroad and banned from entry into the country,” said Stuart James, owner of Intergate Immigration. The new regulations removed “directive 43″, which used to let spouses and other family members renew permits in under 30 days. Now this renewal process will take between 60 days and six months, leaving greater chances for overstay while people are out of the country for a period of time.

Those caught in this transition will be banned for between one to five years, said James. Urgent interdicts could be used by those “stuck” abroad, but “this could drag on for months”.

“An awful lot of lawsuits are on the way,” he said.

Julian Pokroy, chairperson of the Immigration Law Specialist Committee of the Law Society of South Africa, explained people will be classified as “undesirable” once their visas have expired.

Pokroy said there are some positive changes but also some “practical negatives”. The new critical skills visa which replaced work permits only allows entry to those skilled in particular professions. But “no one qualifies at the moment because no list has been gazetted”, said Pokroy.

James said the regulations had been implemented hastily. “It was signed in on Naledi Pandor’s last day in office.”

James attributed this to the lack of clarity on many issues. Pokroy said the regulations make it difficult for skilled foreigners and investors to gain entry to the country

Mogoeng denies pushing Christianity

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on June 5, 2014. 

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Wednesday denied trying to push religion down South Africans’ throats, saying his comments had been misunderstood.

In a press conference held this afternoon, Mogoeng said those who did not read his speech and only got bits of it are the people who have “misunderstood” him.

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addresses members of parliament in the national assembly during the first sitting of the 5th democratic parliament in Cape Town, 21 May 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise
FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addresses members of parliament in the national assembly during the first sitting of the 5th democratic parliament in Cape Town, 21 May 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Speaking at an annual conference in Stellenbosch last week he sparked outrage came from the public when Mogoeng suggested that religion should inform some of our law making processes.

Mogoeng said he spoke about law and religion because that was the theme of the conference.

“I spoke about religion and law because the conference was about religion and law,” said Mogoeng bluntly.

Mogoeng said he highlighted all religions and not just Christianity, “there are treasures in all religions in Africa” he went on to use Ubuntu as an example.

Mogoeng added that all religions practiced properly teach tolerance and love and by so doing shape society.

The chief justice felt that he had not betrayed the constitution in anyway, “I take my oath of office very seriously. I will not give precedence to my religion at the expense of the law”.

When the chief justice finished reading his prepared statement, he ended with “God bless you” before opening the floor for questions.

Infuse religion in law making: Mogoeng

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 29, 2014. 

In sound clips and video footage aired yesterday, Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng suggested infusing religion into “law making practices” would make for a more moral society.

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Speaking at the annual Religion and Law Conference in Stellenbosch on Tuesday evening, Mogoeng said that South Africa’s degenerated morality could be, “effectively turned around if religion were to be factored into law making practices”.

Mogoeng went further: “I hope to support this conclusion with particular reference to principles drawn from the Christian faith. I do so, not because I have no regard for other religions, but because it is the only faith in which I have invested a lot of time and energy to familiarise myself with.”

Lulama Luti, spokesperson for the judiciary said: “The Chief Justice believes there is a need to drive moral regeneration more forcefully and to develop a national moral code based on the foundational values of our Constitution and all other religious principles …”

His comments were the topic of numerous timelines on Twitter yesterday, based on short snippets of the speech they saw or heard. What the public gallery did not comment on was what Mogoeng said after that, which effectively negated his initial view somewhat. He said religion in the law could have negative effects, “the law influenced by dominant faith has at times been adulterated to serve as a tool for the extinction of smaller religions”.

He urged those in attendance to think about what religious intolerance was doing to people in places like the Central African Republic and Sudan as examples.

Shadrack Gutto from the University of South Africa said: “The Chief Justice needs to clarify what he meant by religion. Many people are spiritual but not religious for instance.”

Court Week [2/5]

Today we headed to the South Gauteng High Court, which was just a few blocks away from the Magistrates Court but the two are worlds apart.

Photo: showme.co.za

Just from observing the kind of Advocates who were heading up the stairs into the building (with young assistants pulling their big bags behind them and masses of paperwork in their free hand) we could see that this would be a totally different experience.

We were chaperoned around the building by The Star’s Omphitlhetse Mooki. She had copies of the day’s court roll so we could all make a decision on where we wanted to go. We went to about three different courts which were postponed or already done before we found something fun to start off with. We went to watch motion court presided by Judge Kathy Satchwell.

I haven’t seen many judges in action, save for the one’s on my idiot box but oath she the best I’ll probably ever see. She was wearing shades in court like a real OG and spitting fire at the Advocates. She is a no nonsense kind of lady but also quite kind at heart.

She was willing to go above and beyond for some cases which were at a standstill because of other people’s incompetence. “There are the most incompetent, useless people downstairs,” she said in reply to an applicant who wanted to get a hold of his trial transcripts.

Anyway we imagined that being in her courtroom we would have the most fun and get the juiciest stories. We were mistaken. After our second round of motions we decided to give in to our tummies and went off for lunch. at this point not a single one of my classmates had a story.

By two o’ clock we were in a bit of a panic. it seemed like there was nothing interesting going on anywhere. Every courtroom we tried more tedious than the next. Finally at about 3pm things started to happen for us all. I ended up in court 9F, covering an unlawful arrest and detention case.

 R150 000: THE PRICE FOR POLICE BRUTALITY?

*Names changed to protect identities

Pheladi Sethusa

The South Gauteng High Court was the stage for a case which involved an accident, alleged unlawful arrest and a fistful of police brutality yesterday.

Taxi driver Khaya* is suing the minister of police for R150 000 in damages, with interest, for his unlawful arrest and detention.

Constable Maseke*, was the defence’s first witness called by Advocate Malala*. He said that an accident in Fordsburg between his state vehicle and Khaya’s minibus taxi led to his arrest.

“The robots weren’t working at the intersection on May and Terrace, and he (Khaya) jumped the flashing red robot,” said Maseke.

When Khaya’s legal representative, Advocate Van Rooyen* cross examined Maseke, it became apparent that more had happened at the accident scene than the witness had let on.

Van Rooyen read out Khaya’s version of events to get Maseke’s reaction. In Khaya’s version of events, he reached the intersection first and had the right of way.

Maseke responded, “If he had stopped first he wouldn’t have hit me with the same impact, in fact I would have bumped him.”

Van Rooyen went on to say that after the accident Khaya was instructed to get out of the vehicle but could not do so because his chest had been injured in the collision.

Khaya was then forced out of his taxi and two officers hit him with their fists. He eventually fell to the ground and they then went on to kick him, which is when Maseke joined in.

Maseke denied this vehemently. He admitted that he had left out chunks of the events on the scene of the accident because his statement would have been too long, but said that Khaya’s version was untrue.

Judge Nyathi* was amused by the inconsistencies that arose in Maseke’s testimony, even more so when his colleague Constable Mudau* took the stand.

His version of events effectively made Maseke’s testimony seem unsound. He placed himself on the scene but did not take responsibility for the things Maseke claimed he did on the scene, like arresting Khaya.

Sergeant Rameila* was the third person on the witness stand and for the most part his events did not differ much from Maseke’s. However, his testimony was cut short as the court adjourned for the day and will continue on May 22 at 10am.

We were bummed that we didn’t get to see what the other witnesses would have added as things were getting really interesting just as we adjourned. But we might go back tomorrow morning to see how the story ends before we have to head off to the Magistrates Court again.

Peace.

Court Week [1/5]

Photo: http://www.cultofmac.com

Today we went off to the Johannesburg Magistrates Court to get acquainted with courts and to see our justice system at work.

We began the day by looking at the roll for the day to see which cases/trials  we would want to watch and cover for the day. We were all tasked with finding one interesting case and reporting on it by our 6pm deadline.

It was a bit tricky finding the right court to attend but by midday we had found a few interesting cases and trials to cover. Today we went off in little groups so we could all struggle together, hopefully we all learnt enough today to brave the corridors by ourselves come Wednesday.

We had to be back at the department at 4pm so we could all submit by 6pm. It took me a while to decide which case I would write about because they were all interesting in their own way. We had two drunken driving ones, tax evasion and theft.

What I wanted to write about was a refugee from Mozambique who was charged with theft (he stole a Woolies trolley) and not having any “lawful” identification documents. I didn’t knew that foreigners are obliged to carry some sort of identification on their person at all times or face arrest when they don’t. It seems very 1952 to me. His case made me even more sad when he was sentenced to more jail time because he couldn’t possibly afford the R3000 fine required of him for both “crimes”.

Anyway I ended up not having enough solid information to write that story, so I wrote this one instead:

DIVERSION – A LITTLE KNOWN PLEA

*Names changed to protect identities

Pheladi Sethusa

Guilty or not guilty are not the only choices when a plea is being made in court. People accused of small misdemeanours can plead diversion, which is a plea of no contest against the charges being made.

Thomas* (30) from Berea pleaded diversion to charges of drunken driving earlier today in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court. Diversion is normally only granted to people who commit low value crimes, like shoplifting or possession of a small amount of drugs said his lawyer, James*.

James said that Thomas deserved a diversion because, “he is a taxi driver, a Zulu and a South African.”

The magistrate was not impressed with this argument, saying that his nationality should not divert from the crime committed. To this James replied that it is indeed a mitigating factor in getting his bail dropped.

James claimed that his client could not afford the bail amount which was set at R1000. “Are you taking this on as a pro bono case, Mr James?”, “No I am not,” replied James. The magistrate went on to ask how Thomas could then afford legal counsel but not meet bail.

James asked for Thomas to be allowed to enter the diversion programme. Diversion can only be granted when a person does not deny the charges being made against them, explained James.

The magistrate released Thomas on a warning and told him he can go ahead and enroll for the diversion programme as requested by his lawyer. He would have to come back on May 27 to find out how many hours he would have to serve in the programme.

The diversion programme is run in conjunction with the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA). The programme aims to rehabilitate people who are enrolled.

Once the hours stipulated by the court have been completed, Sibiya must come back to court with evidence thereof. Then his record will be cleared and he won’t have a criminal record to his name.

That is all for today, I am bushed and I have an episode of Isibaya to watch.

The Newsroom 6.0

Well somehow between exhaustion and a coma induced by sheer laziness I didn’t post a “newsroom update”  from last week – a thousand apologies to the five of you that do read this blog.

Last week was meant to be one of our most hectic weeks in the newsroom as we were publishing a twelve page edition. Yet somehow, it turned out to be one of our calmer weeks– especially on production day. Things went swimmingly, we even – wait for it – sent the paper in to the printers on time (give or take 10 minutes). Something which apparently hasn’t been done in the Vuvu newsroom for about two years.  Yay us!

I have trouble remembering anything that happened over the ppast seven days, so I can’t remember much else from that week besides the fact that we did joPs (no, that is not a typo, just a #balcktwitter reference).

Okay on to events I can remember – this past week we had news conference as usual, a very rushed one was had but we all had something to bring to the proverbial table.  We then had guest speaker Gilbert Marcus in to teach us a thing or two about the courts. He taught us the basic ins and outs of courts in SA.

After which we all had to scurry off to get our stories started. I went in the opposite direction and helped out with a video vox –  just find them so fun. The question we posed was about female condoms, we got amazing responses from Witsies.

Later that evening I had an interview on Life Beats, a show on VoW FM. The topic up for discussion was social media – how I use it in my personal and professional life mainly. Luckily I was joined by my friend and colleague Shandukani Mulaudzi and we had a ball just speaking our minds. The host said we had been the most entertaining guests they had had on air in a while.  I really enjoyed being on radio, it may be something I want to pursue now.

On Tuesday morning we went through to watch proceedings at Constitutional Court. It was great being there while something was actually happening, as opposed to just taking pictures outside as I had done before. We went in preparation for court week – which starts tomorrow. We just wanted something we could compare the High Court and Magistrates Court to. Those attorneys and advocates know their stuff, it was interesting listening to them make their arguments.

The week from there on was pretty much down hill, I felt super busy every day but I wasn’t really doing anything. Both of my stories fell off the diary because of late responses from sources but it’s chilled guess it gives us (me) more time to get a better story together.

The only piece of myself I managed to get in the paper was a deep caption of Mfundi Vundla. Come production day it was back to the same 8 pager chaos that we are accustomed to. I was production manager again and this week was surprisingly more challenging than last week.

But as always we made it somehow and luckily we got the rest of that day off, which gave me a chance to catch up on much needed sleep. As a mentioned earlier Court Week starts next week, 8am to 6pm days – I can’t wait!