FXI Law Clinic Cases

The FXI has contributed to the body of knowledge on freedom of expression in South Africa through cases undertaken by the FXI Law Clinic. The FXI Law Clinic has intervened in over 200 freedom of expression related matters since its inception. 

Brief history of the FXI Law Clinic

The Media Defence Trust was established in 1989 in response to the wave of state action against the media, such as the closure of newspapers and detention of journalists. In its six years of establishment the Media Defence Trust was the sole supporter and defender of independent media and journalists. The Media Defence Trust was incorporated into the FXI in 1994, at the request of its administrators, and became the Defence Fund of the FXI. The Defence Fund was re-launched as the Freedom of Expression Defence Fund in 1997 to reflect the broadening of its role to include all cases involving freedom of expression and access to information. The Freedom of Expression Institute Law Clinic was established in 2005 and is accredited by the Law Society of South Africa.


SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AND JON DABULA QWELANE, CASE NUMBER: 44/2009 EQ JHB
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.
Open/View PDF (Qwelane-v-Minister-of-Justice-and-Constitutional-Development.pdf)
December 10 2009 By Bongani Phiri SAHRC, 44/2009


Freedom Front and SA Human Rights Commission & another [2003] JOL 11698 (SAHRC)
Complaint that Broadcasters flighting a news report disclosing the identity and name of a minor, as well as his HIV/Aids status, without masking the minor's face or digitally fragmenting his image, amounts to a contravention of Clause 38 of the Broadcasting Code and an infringement of the minor's constitutional rights to privacy and dignity. Further, that the natural parents and legal guardians of the minor, in signing a waiver authorizing the relevant broadcast, did not fully appreciate the legal consequences of such waiver of the minor's rights, and that therefore the minor's best interest was violated. The Tribunal held that, since there was a compelling societal interest that the Aids pandemic be communicated to the public, and since the parents had granted their permission, the broadcasts had not contravened the Code. Insofar as the fundamental rights of the child were concerned, the invasion, even if it had occurred, had been reasonable in terms of section 36 of the Constitution.

The case was dismissed
January 04 2003 By Bongani Phiri freedom front , SAHRC