Recent Cases

Current cases FXI is involved in:

    • The Qwelane hate speech case is underway in the Johannesburg South Gauteng High Court wherein the respondents of the initial case have made an application to the high court challenging the constitutionality of Section 10 of the Equality Act, on which the case against Mr Qwelane was founded. Mr Qwelane was initially taken to court by the South African Human Rights Commission for hate speech. (FXI Amicus)FXI takes particular interest in this matter because it stands to define the very contentious parameters of hate speech in South Africa.
    • Our client, the defendant, Heidi Lee Smith was served summons from Southern Palace Investments for defamation and damages to the amount of R850 000.00, based on a publication in our clients community newspaper, Kruger2Canyon. The matter had reached a trial ready stage when the plaintiffs seemed to stop pursuance of the matter.
    • The matter is of particular interest to the FXI given the continually growing trend of the use of frivolous litigation by persons to censor community media i.e. newspapers from publishing matters that concern them, that they do not want known.
    • The respondent Sylvia Vollenhoven had been commissioned by the SABC to produce and air a documentary titled “The spear”, the SABC later decided not to air it however, in which instance Ms Vollenhoven sought to buy it from them and air it, which they still refused to do. The SABC then sought to interdict Vollenhoven from claiming any rights to the documentary and airing it.(FXI Amicus)
    • This depicts the censorship that goes on in the public broadcaster, which has a clear mandate in airing issues of public interest tailored for the South Africa public with absolute independence (without fear or favour) from any influence.
    • Mr Motsepe was found guilty for the crime of criminal defamation on 21 June 2013 by the Regional Magistrates court, Nigel. This was a conviction that had not been heard of in the courts for a long time and was assumed by the general public (as is the trend globally) to have been banned,  for the obvious reason that laws like that have a grave negative effect on freedom of expression. An appeal has been made against the conviction and in solidarity numerous civil society organisation, with FXI as attorneys of record will be seeking to make representations as amicus in the proceedings to explore the standing of criminal defamation in South African Law. ( FXI Amicus)
    • FXI takes particular interest in this matter with the view of it being our duty as advocates of the right to freedom of expression to oppose any laws that prove to be undue barriers to the full exercise of this right.

Intervention Highlights:

  • Precedent setting Oscar judgment: opportunities for smaller media groups
    • Mr P Martin from Cape Town who was seeking permission from Khayalitsha magistrate court to record a certain trial of a man who was part of a documentary he did a few years ago. The accused was the husband of one of the ain characters of the documentary whom the accused was charged with murdering. Mr Martin was looking to produce a sequel to the initial documentary and wanted to film the trail for such purposes. FXI together with the assistance of an attorney made application to have cameras in the said court, of which the order only allowed for cameras at the on-site visit as well as for the judgment alone. The matter is key in that the subject matter is one of public interest in that it deals with domestic violence against women, which is widespread in South Africa.
  • Tattoos – Artistic expression in the workplace
    • Mr Angelo Louw of lovelife magazine, sought comment from FXI on the laws attached to expression of body art being prohibited at the work place. He wanted to know if it  was at all right that rules of conduct in a company go as far as explicitly prohibiting the appearance of body art i.e. Tattoos. This matter is important to note as it highlights the balancing act between employment contracts and one’s constitutional right.
  • Constant challenges around the right to protest
    • FXI assisted a group called Persistent Solidarity forum in arranging a protest as they were receiving grievances from JMPD. After intervention form FXI the protest went ahead peacefully. It is of concern that Institutions / organization which should be seen to embracing the constitutional right to protest are so ready to meet it with such opposition. When they should be leading the way in the observing and protecting human rights practices which this is.
  • Freedom of Expression – virtue or curse
    • Mr Lukhona Mnguni published an open letter on an internet forum to the chancellor of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (in which he is a student), to air grievances which he was of the view were not being attended to by the University. This earned him disciplinary proceeding on the basis that his publication was defamatory. This was off course a disturbing show of censorship action by the University. The FXI assisted Lukhona with an opinion piece around freedom of expression and defamation to guide and offer legal advice for his hearing (where he was not allowed external representation)