'All the Riotous Assemblies Act does is criminalise incitement'

The Pretoria High Court has dismissed Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema application to declare the Riotous Assemblies Act unconstitutional on Tuesday.

Malema was charged with violating the 1956 act when he told supporters to invade vacant land.

[RELATED] High court dismisses EFF bid to declare Riotous Assemblies Act unconstitutional

The red berets' leader challenged the constitutionality of the act, saying the State was using apartheid-era legislation to prosecute him.

Malema says he will now take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

But what is the Riotous Assemblies Act?

To discuss the act, Bongani Bingwa chats to independent constitutional law expert Phephelaphi Dube.

There has been a lot of gross human rights violations that were perpetrated using the Riotous Assemblies Act. And there were quite a number of activists who received the death penalty as a result of having transgressed the provisions of the Riotous Assemblies Act.

Phephelaphi Dube, Independent constitutional law expert

She says, in essence, the act was there to give the then justice minister under the apartheid regime, extensive power in terms of what he would deem public disturbances. Dube reiterates however that the most critical aspects of the act have been repelled.

So as it is, all the Riotous Assemblies Act simply does is to criminalise incitement. It is important to bear in mind that the most problematic aspects of the act are no longer applied.

Phephelaphi Dube, Independent constitutional law expert

Dube adds that the important thing to bear in mind when it comes to the Malema case is that he was on trial in the High Court because he challenged the constitutionality of the act.

Because of that, the court didn't go into the merits of whether or not he had indeed committed the offence of incitement.

Phephelaphi Dube, Independent constitutional law expert

Listen below to the full interview:


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