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'ConCourt surveillance ruling protects South Africans' privacy and dignity'

4 February 2021 8:29 PM
Tags:
Constitutional Court
Constitution
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Rica
Concourt
Sam Sole
amaBhungane
privacy
amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism
surveillance
Cherese Thakur

It's momentous! - AmaBhungane's Cherese Thakur on the ruling that declares parts of SA’s Rica law are unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court has dealt another blow to "spook" operations in the country.

It's declared that parts of our Rica (Regulation of Interception of Communication Act) legislation are unconstitutional.

The ConCourt ruling confirms orders made by the high court in September.

amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism. Picture: Supplied.

It's the result of an application brought by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and managing partner Sam Sole.

They challenged the provisions around Rica after receiving information that Sole had been under surveillance.

RELATED: The story of amaBhungane (and how it’s digging up dung on the Guptas & friends)

On The Money Show, Bruce Whitfield interviews amaBhungane advocacy co-ordinator Cherese Thakur.

She says there were two major concerns amaBhungane took to the Constitutional Court.

The first was the bulk surveillance intercepting and monitoring any communication that went out of South Africa... This was monitoring for things like key words, specific email addresses or locations...

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

This affected everyone and the effect of this judgment is to declare the practice of bulk surveillance unlawful.

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

AmaBhungane's second main concern was that there is no post-surveillance notification - an issue that affected Sam Sole personally.

Of course Rica permits surveillance for certain legitimate purposes like investigating crime.... Our concerns related to insufficient safeguards like whether you were notified after surveillance happened.

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

Sam Sole was not notified that he was being watched and his communications were being intercepted.

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

The ConCourt decision means that someone would have to be informed of surveillance after the fact which in turn means that person could bring a challenge to court.

The role of designated judges was also addressed in the ruling.

They are the ones who decide whether surveillance is permissible based on the supplied information.

Judges have to be impartial but there also have to be built-in mechanisms that ensure that impartiality, and this was lacking in Rica.

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

The ruling is momentous in that it says this needs to change when the amendments to Rica to bring it in line with the Constitution are eventually passed, which needs to happen within three years.

Cherese Thakur, Advocacy co-ordinator - amaBhungane

Listen to the complete conversation below:




4 February 2021 8:29 PM
Tags:
Constitutional Court
Constitution
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Rica
Concourt
Sam Sole
amaBhungane
privacy
amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism
surveillance
Cherese Thakur

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