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.

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.
December 05 2016 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

Monametse/Mokotho Relocated Community
Moshabi Selowa ( FXN Limpopo) contacted us in November 2016 noting the difficulties he was facing from the resoponisble officer in the municipalaity. He notes that the group was attempting to arranage a protest and she was refsuing to release the notice form. She also took to attempt to mediate the matter ( which is not her role). Severals meetings were had with the min against whom the group souaght to protest howvere we await further instrauctions from moshabi on the way forward.
Freedom of Expression
November 20 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Tom Nkhosi (Ziwaphi) and Eddy Mabuza
Tom had written a publication in November 2016. He received a Phone call from one of the individuals mentioned in the article requesting proof that he did in fact request he answer questions( right of reply). Tome forwarded the proof, nothing further came of this.
November 10 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Assmang (Pty) Ltd and P Moseki and 3 others
Certain individuals of the community based organisation CCG have been interdicted from encouraging and participating in unlawful protests among other things after organizing and participating in protest action against the mine (Assmang). The FXI Law clinic is assisting with legal representation and defending the CCG against what we consider to be a violation of the constitutional right to protest. The Matter was heard in the opposed role on the 27th of October 2016 with judgement delivered on the 18th of November 2016 against our clients. After consultation with counsel the application for leave to appeal was filed on the 7th of December 2016.

FXI Objective: Anti-Censorship
October 26 2016 By Freedom Of Expression Institute

HG Travelling Services CC and Impact News
Impact News had written a publication in October 2016. He then received a letter form one of the individuals mentioned in the letter requesting he issue a retraction. Impact news acknowledged incorrect procedures and agreed to rewrite the story with a fair and accurate reflection of HG Travelling Services.
October 01 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Moreipuso Traditional council and Speaker Mahlake / any other person(s) acting upon his instruction
The FXI represented the Defendant in this matter. The case involved the Moreipuso issuing an interdict against Speaker Mahlake from hosting a Heritage celebration event on the 24th of September 2016 at Wales
The interdicted only limited the defendant from using the venue on the 24th September, the defendant complied with the interdict and organized an alternative venue and proceeded with the event.
Since the interim was only for the 24th of September, it would have been defunct to have made the interdict final as the date had already passed.
The applicant's attorneys decided not to pursue the matter any further.
FXI Objective: Anti-Censorship
September 24 2016 By Bongani Phiri

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.
Open/View PDF (SABC-v-Via-Vollenhoven.pdf)
September 02 2016 By Bongani Phiri SABC

Tom Nkhosi ( Ziwaphi) and Linda Mwale
The Ziwaphi Newspaper published an article on the 22nd of the September 2016. The article was about Mr Linda Mwale and his involvement in awarding tenders as the Secretary of the Mpumalanga Legislature.

Mr Mwale through his lawyers demanded that Ziwaphi must print a retraction and an apology and failure to do so would result in legal action.
FXI Objective: Freedom to Expression
Media and a free press
September 01 2016 By Bongani Phiri

Solidarity and SABC
Four SABC journalists had been suspended and then summarily dismissed without disciplinary hearings because of their discomfort with the SABC "Protest Policy." This policy related to the SABC's refusal to broadcast footage of destruction of public property during protests. The journalists argued that they had been dismissed in violation of their employment contract since they were refused a hearing and in violation of their constitutional right to freedom of expression (section 16 of the Constitution). The constitutional piece of the case rested on the SABC's purported reason for their ultimate dismissal-that they had discussed their internal dissent in an external manner (i.e., to the press)-was constitutionally invalid. Applicants' counsel acknowledged that a regular employee generally could not voice opposition with his/her employers openly, the situation with the SABC was unique since its role as a public broadcaster meant that the public had a significant interest in learning about internal events.

The Labour Court of South Africa ultimately held the following: (1) that it had jurisdictional authority to hear the case, and (2) that the employment contract, when read with the SABC Disciplinary Code and Procedure, had been breached since a disciplinary hearing was in fact required prior to dismissal. The court accordingly granted the requested relief with "urgency," reinstating the employees to their previous positions. The "urgency" in deciding the case and granting relief interestingly stemmed from the SABC's role in the upcoming election and the journalists' specific responsibilities as well as the usual factors (e.g., convenience, clear right, etc.). The court did not explicitly rule on whether the journalists' constitutional right to free expression as enshrined in s16 was violated. However, it appeared to endorse applicants' position implicitly by recounting their argument and granting their requested relief.
Open/View PDF (Solidarity-v-SABC.pdf)
July 26 2016 By Bongani Phiri SABC

Vusi Mlaba Murder Case
This matter involves the progress of the alleged assassination of Vusi Mlaba from Warden.

Vusi Mlaba was a respected community activist and whistle blower whose apparent assassination occurred on the 29th of April 2016

FXI Objective: Access to Information
April 29 2016 By Bongani Phiri vusi mlaba

Muslim Views and Media 24
Muslim Views is one of the oldest community newspapers in Cape Town.In April 2016, Media 24 launched Modest Muse newspaper which targerts a very similar target group to Muslim Views. Muslim Views approached FXI to enquire on anti-competitive behaviour and to offer a legal opinion about the options available to them.
Access to media & ICT
April 01 2016 By Freedom Of Expression Institute