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Encyclopedia > Constitutional Court of South Africa
South Africa

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
South Africa
Image File history File links Za-coa. ... // Constitution Following the 1994 elections, South Africa was governed under an interim constitution. ...



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The South African Constitutional Court was established in 1994 by South Africa's first democratic constitution: the Interim Constitution of 1993. In terms of the 1996 Constitution the Constitutional Court established in 1994 continues to hold office. The court began its first sessions in February 1995. Since February 2004, Constitution Hill in Johannesburg has been the seat of the court. The court consists of eleven judges, headed by a Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice. Currently eight of the judges are men and three are women. They may serve for a non-renewable term of 12 years, but must, in any event, retire at the age of 70 even if their 12 year term has not been completed. They are all independent. Their duty is to uphold the law and the constitution, which they must apply impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice. The President of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africas Constitution. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... The Deputy President of South Africa is appointed by the President of South Africa. ... Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (born November 3, 1955) is the current Deputy President of South Africa. ... Ministers, in the South African government, are Members of Parliament who hold a ministerial warrant to perform certain functions of government. ... bob Parliament of South Africa is South Africas legislature and is composed of the National Assembly of South Africa and the National Council of Provinces. ... The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is the upper house of the Parliament of South Africa under the (post-apartheid) constitution which came into full effect in 1997. ... The National Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of South Africa, located in Cape Town, Western Cape Province. ... The Speaker of the National Assembly presides over the South African National Assembly. ... Tony Leon Anthony James Leon (born 15 December 1956) is a South African politician and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africas main opposition party and current leader of the opposition. ... Tony Leon Anthony James Leon (born 15 December 1956) is a South African politician and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africas main opposition party. ... The Judiciary of South Africa is an independent branch of government, subject only to the South African Constitution and the laws of the country. ... The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (Afrikaans; Hoogste Hof van Appel van Suid Afrika) is the South African court that has the final say on all matters other than those that involve the interpretation of the constitution. ... The High Court of South Africa is a court of law in South Africa. ... Magistrates Courts in South Africa are the lower courts and the courts of of first instance and decide all matters as provided for by an act of parliament. ... Elections in South Africa gives information on election and election results in South Africa. ... Political parties in South Africa lists political parties in South Africa. ... A map of the nine provinces of South Africa South Africa is currently divided into nine provinces. ... Foreign Relations of South Africa South African forces fought on the Allied side in both World War I and World War II, and it participated in the postwar United Nations force in the Korean War. ... Information on politics by country is available for every country, including both de jure and de facto independent states, inhabited dependent territories, as well as areas of special sovereignty. ... Democracy (literally rule by the people, from the Greek δῆμος demos, people, and κράτος kratos, rule) is a form of government for a nation state, or for an organization in which all the citizens have a voice in shaping policy. ... The Constitution Hill precinct in Johannesburg is the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. ... , City motto: Unity in Development Province Gauteng Mayor Amos Masondo Area  - % water 1,644 km² 0. ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ... The Chief Justice of South Africa is the top judge in South Africa, who exercises final authority over the functioning and management of all the courts. ... A man is a male human. ... A woman is a female human. ...


The constitution requires that a matter before the court be heard by at least eight judges. In practice, all eleven judges hear every case. If any judge is absent for a long period or a vacancy arises, an acting judge may be appointed by the President of the Republic on a temporary basis. Decisions of the Court are reached by majority vote of the judges sitting in a case. Each judge must indicate his or her decision. The reasons for the decision are published in a written judgment. The President of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africas Constitution. ...

Contents

Current justices

Constitutional Court justices as of June 2005:

The Chief Justice of South Africa is the top judge in South Africa, who exercises final authority over the functioning and management of all the courts. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Albie Sachs (1935-) is a justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (IPA ) (born July 18, 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. ...

The constitution as the supreme law

The judgments of the court are based on the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. They guarantee the basic rights and freedoms of all persons. They are binding on all organs of government, including the parliament, the presidency, the police force, the army, the public service and all courts. This means that the court has the power to declare an Act of Parliament null and void if it conflicts with the constitution and to control executive action in the same way. In Westminster System parliaments, an Act of Parliament is a part of the law passed by the Parliament. ...


When interpreting the Constitution, the court is required to consider international human rights law and may consider the law of other democratic countries. The Constitutional Court is the highest court in the land for all constitutional matters. Human rights are rights which some hold to be inalienable and belonging to all humans. ...


Other bodies protecting human rights

The court is one of many bodies created by the constitution to defend the rights of citizens. It is concerned basically with matters of broad constitutional principle. Bad or incorrect conduct by state officials can be reported to the Office of the Public Protector, formerly called the Ombudsman. A Human Rights Commission has been established to handle complaints of violation of human rights in daily life. The ordinary courts, notably the small claims courts, the Magistrates Courts, the High Courts and the Supreme Court of Appeal, deal with day-to-day disputes between citizens and the state. An ombudsman is an official, usually (but not always) appointed by the government or by parliament, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. ... Small claims courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that hear civil cases between private litigants. ... The High Court of South Africa is a court of law in South Africa. ... The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (Afrikaans; Hoogste Hof van Appel van Suid Afrika) is the South African court that has the final say on all matters other than those that involve the interpretation of the constitution. ...


Co-operation with Parliament and Provincial Assemblies

The Constitutional Court has a special responsibility to parliament and provincial legislatures. If there is a dispute in parliament or in a provincial legislature concerning whether or not legislation that has been passed and assented to is constitutional, a third of the members of the body concerned may apply to the Constitutional Court to give a ruling. Similarly, the President or the Premier of a Province may refer a bill to the court for a decision on its constitutionality before assenting to that Bill.


Proceedings in court

The court does not hear evidence or question witnesses. It does not decide directly whether accused persons are guilty or whether damages should be awarded to an injured person. These are matters for the ordinary courts. Its function is to determine the meaning of the Constitution in relation to matters in dispute. One consequence of this is that the court works largely with written arguments presented to it by the parties. The hearings of the court are intended to address particularly difficult issues raised by the written arguments of the parties.


The hearings of the court are open to the public and the press. No cameras or recorders are ordinarily permitted. The public is invited to attend all sessions. Ordinary rules of decent dress and decorum apply.


Decision on Marriage in South Africa

On 1st December 2005 (Case CCT 60/04 and Case CCT 10/04), the Court legalized same-sex marriage in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v. Fourie. Writing for a Court that was unanimous on all matters except as to the remedy, Justice Albie Sachs, relying on the express protection of sexual orientation under the Constitution (ch. 2, § 9), said that South Africa has a multitude of family formations that are evolving rapidly as society develops, so that it is inappropriate to entrench any particular form as the only socially and legally acceptable one; there was an imperative constitutional need to acknowledge the long history in South Africa and abroad of marginalization and persecution of gays and lesbians although a number of breakthroughs have been made in particular areas; there is no comprehensive legal regulation of the family law rights of gays and lesbians; and that South Africa's Constitution represents a radical rupture with the past based on intolerance and exclusion, and the movement forward to the acceptance of the need to develop a society based on equality and respect by all for all. He pointed out that at issue was the need to affirm the character of society as one based on tolerance and mutual respect. Minister of Home Affairs v. ... Albie Sachs (1935-) is a justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. ...


External links

  • Constitutional Court of South Africa official site

  Results from FactBites:
 
South Africa’s Highest Court Strikes Down Sodomy Law (1196 words)
The Constitutional Court of South Africa unanimously declared that both the common law crime of male homosexual sodomy and several statutes incorporating that crime for various purposes violate the new constitution of South Africa.
The court held that all convictions of consensual sodomy dating back to the adoption of the interim constitution in 1993 are subject to invalidation.
South Africa’s common law crime of sodomy was derived from English common law, dating from the reign of Henry VIII, when Parliament passed a sodomy statute to replace the church law that was terminated when the Catholic Church was disestablished by the English Reformation.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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