LegalWise South Africa welcomes the judgment handed down on 16 January 2024 by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, whereby it declared that the Department of Home Affairs’ conduct of placing markers on identity numbers and identity documents is unjust, invalid, and inconsistent with our Constitution.
Together with the First Applicant Ms. Mazibuko, Lawyers for Human Rights and the Children’s Institute (as Amicus Curiae or Friend of the Court), the LegalWise Impact Litigation Unit joined this matter on behalf of its Members, who have been grappling with the distressing issue of blocked IDs for years. This pivotal case was heard in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in September 2023 and judgment was handed down yesterday.
“Blocked IDs have profound implications for the approximately 800 000 South Africans whose identity documents were blocked by the Department of Home Affairs. These documents are indispensable for various essential activities, including marriage, banking, healthcare access, employment, registering births of children, and even the exercise of voting rights in the upcoming elections. Today’s ruling holds immense significance as it directly impacts the fundamental rights and privileges of our citizens,” says Lithalethemba Stwayi, who manages the Impact Litigation Unit at LegalWise.
LegalWise, the pioneer of legal expenses insurance in our country, recently launched its Impact Litigation Unit (ILU) as a vehicle to drive positive social change for all South Africans. With an enduring legacy of providing its Members with affordable access to justice, the ILU now amplifies and extends the right to access to justice to not only include its Members, but also other vulnerable individuals within the broader South African society.
“While we have one of the best Constitutions in the world, and although the right to access to justice is constitutionally entrenched, South Africans are significantly impeded by legal fees and other costs associated with accessing the South African justice system,” says Siva Gengan, LegalWise South Africa CEO. “As a champion of justice, LegalWise has been providing our Members with affordable access to justice for almost 40 years, and our Impact Litigation Unit now leverages our existing wealth of knowledge to advance the human rights of all South Africans, and not just our Members.”
Impact Litigation is designed to address laws or behaviour that harm groups of people and prevent others from being harmed in the future. This is based on one of the founding provisions in the South African Bill of Rights which states that “the Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic and all law or conduct that is inconsistent with it, is invalid.”
The ILU is committed to consider all matters of public interest that will achieve broad legal change to systemic issues by challenging laws, policies, and practices that are unjust or discriminatory through advocacy and or litigation. “The work of the ILU is done at no cost to the applicant, and all required litigation is funded by LegalWise South Africa. It includes, but is not limited to, research, advocacy, as well as planning and preparing selected litigation matters on behalf of applicant(s) for Court,” states Stwayi.
“It is important to note that litigation is deemed a measure of last resort, as our legal system stipulates that other avenues must be exhausted before a matter is brought to court. We are constantly on the lookout for public interest matters, with a focus on cases pertaining to constitutional and human rights.”
Stwayi urges South Africans from all communities and all walks of life to contact the ILU with matters of public interest that will achieve broad legal change to systemic issues.
If you have an issue that affects you and your greater community, send an email to Lithalethemba Stwayi of email@example.com. All matters will be considered and evaluated.
To review the full judgment, click here.
To arrange an interview with LegalWise on the High Court Ruling, contact Liezl MacLennan
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: +27 82 375 3554