The Courts have been busy recently releasing some controversial judgments:
The Labour Court has ruled that the failure to promote a white female officer in the police force was discriminatory. More consideration needed to be given to her rights to equality and dignity and there needed to be consideration of her personal work history and circumstances. Find the judgment here (pdf). This promises to create quite a stir in the media in the next few days and I will try and get someone with labour law knowledge to write a post.
The SCA has ruled that Robert McBride was defamed by The Citizen newspaper who called him a murderer. The SCA reasoned that since McBride had been granted amnesty for the crimes concerned he was no longer a murderer. See the judgment here (pdf).
I find this latter judgment quite troubling for a few reasons. If someone gets amnesty it doesn't mean that retroactively they did not kill someone illegally. To that extent the person is surely a murderer. Even if legally you're no longer a murder, in common parlance it seems that the person is still a murderer albeit an excused one.
The SCA jumps this linguistic hurdle by arguing that a purposive reading of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995 (PNURA) shows that amnesty should also remove the label of being a murderer so the excused person can reintegrate into society. Now there may be substantial benefits to integrating someone who has been granted amnesty back into society. However, it seems very dubious that we should limit the right to freedom of expression of the media in order to give effect to something that has not been expressly stated in a statute. To make this more clear, the PNURA does not expressly state that people who committed crimes are no longer to be labeled murders. The SCA are reading this in order to give effect to promoting reconciliation. Purposive reasoning is an important part of legal reasoning but it shouldn't be used to limit rights particularly rights that are so foundational to a democratic order.