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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Sowetan by Roxanne Henderson.]

The jamming of cell phones and limiting the broadcasting of proceedings during last year’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament was unconstitutional and unlawful‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court on Thursday morning handed down its judgment in the case‚ launched by Primedia Broadcasting and the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef)‚ the Right2Know campaign and the Open Democracy Advice Centre.

On appeal‚ the litigants claimed that the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and others had violated the public’s right to see and hear what was done and said in Parliament on February 12 as journalists were unable to tweet rolling coverage of events as they unfolded from their phones.

They also took issue with the fact that the parliamentary television feed was limited to the face of Mbete when a scuffle broke out between Economic Freedom Fighters members and security officials.

The State Security Agency‚ who had employed the use of the telecommunications jamming device without Mbete’s permission‚ said the signal block was accidental.

“The device was supposed to have been switched off before the session began. The technician charged with this duty had forgotten to switch the device off‚ something which his superior noticed as soon as he saw the protests of MPs and journalists on television. He issued an instruction to the technician to switch it off … and the signal was restored‚” the court said.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.4% y/y in April 2019 (CPI) & +6.5 y/y in April 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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