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CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES THAT MARRIAGES OF BLACK WOMEN MARRIED IN TERMS OF SECTION 22(6) OF THE BLACK ADMINISTRATION ACT 38 OF 1927 ARE AUTOMATICALLY IN COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY

Historically marriages of black people were regulated exclusively by the Black Administration Act, 38 of 1927 (“BAA”). In terms of section 22(6) of the BAA, the default position for black couples was that their marriages were automatically out of community of property.

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Major new development for law and rights related to African refugees, migrants

A new ‘centre of excellence’, focused on law that deals with refugees and migrants in Africa, was announced this week. Based at the University of Cape Town, the project has three major backers: the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency), the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges and the Judicial Institute for Africa. Among its chief objects, the project will focus on university-certified training in refugee and migrant law for judges, magistrates and others working with refugees in Africa.


The UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency), the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ) and the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa), have committed to an exciting and potentially far-reaching new joint project: the establishment of a centre of excellence, based at the University of Cape Town, providing university-certified courses to judges around Africa on issues of asylum and refugee law.

Courts consider litigation by deaf drivers, TV viewers

The rights of deaf people have been considered by the courts in two recent decisions, one in Zambia and the other in the UK. In the first, the applicants challenged Zambian provisions in terms of which deaf drivers are not entitled to driving licences. In the second, a deaf woman claimed the UK government discriminated against her and others in her position by not providing a British Sign Language interpreter for government live briefings to the public about Covid-19.

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The decision in the Zambian high court case bitterly disappointed the executive director of Zambia Deaf Youth and Women (ZDYW), Frankson Musukwa. Acting on his own behalf and as a representative of ZDYW, Musukwa had hoped for much more from the case.

Uganda prepares for new law on ‘human sacrifice’: here’s what a case of ‘human sacrifice’ looks like

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has just signed a long-anticipated piece of legislation into law. The new legislation, aimed to deal with ‘human sacrifice’, was originally introduced as a private member’s Bill but won widespread support in parliament. Among other tough provisions, the new law prescribes life imprisonment for anyone found to unlawfully possess human body parts as well as ‘instruments associated with human sacrifice’.


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A recent news story, showing Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni holding a Bill he had just signed into law, will have astonished many of its readers. The headline said that the Bill signed by Museveni was a law on ‘human sacrifice’, and that with the new legislation it would be possible to send someone to prison for life if they had been involved in killing people ‘for rituals’.

State must take tougher steps to ensure people's fundamental rights are not violated - Kenya’s apex court

The supreme court of Kenya has delivered a significant judgment on the right to shelter. It involved people who had been living in two informal settlements since the 1960s, when it was effectively public land. In 2013, they were forcibly evicted by a private entity, the Moi Educational Centre, with the help of the state via the police and others. The high court found in favour of the people who were evicted, saying there was an ‘unapologetic admission’ by the Moi Centre that it had evicted the people and had their homes demolished, all without a court order.

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As the supreme court explains right at the start, this case concerns the interpretation of the right to accessible and adequate housing under the constitution’s Article 43 and, where a court finds violation of rights, the constitutional remedy of compensation.

Police act against two Kenyan high court judges, search chambers

Two judges of the high court in Kenya were questioned and their chambers searched last week, sparking widespread concern about whether this was a symptom of worsening relations between the judiciary and the executive. After the arrests – detectives now dispute that the judges were in fact ‘arrested’ – and questioning for several hours, the judges were released. Their lawyers said afterwards that the judges’ chambers had been searched, apparently for money that might have been evidence of bribery, but that nothing had been found.

The two judicial officers at the centre of this drama are Judges Said Chitembwe and Aggrey Muchelule both of whom are based at Milimani law courts in Nairobi.

A week ago, detectives arrived at the court building and went to the chambers of the two judges which were then searched. Though there were widespread reports by the media and others that the two judges were arrested, the directorate of criminal investigations (DCI) now claims this never happened.

Judge sued by counsel over behaviour that supreme court rules is ‘unacceptable’

One of the legally most distressing cases ever to be argued in the courts of Zambia has reached a crucial point: the scandalous matter of a senior advocate suing a high court judge with allegations that his constitutional rights had been infringed by the judge, has now been considered by the country’s highest court. The supreme court has ordered that the matter be properly heard in the high court, but with the judge no longer named as respondent.

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The supreme court of Zambia was only too well aware of the drama of the situation at the heart of this case: a well-known and highly-respected legal practitioner sued a judge before whom he had appeared in a matter, and claimed that the judge had infringed the constitutional rights of the lawyer concerned.

No justiciable rights to shelter in Zimbabwe – supreme court

Zimbabwe’s supreme court has confirmed that the country has no justiciable right to shelter, saying reference to shelter in the constitution was ‘essentially hortatory in nature’, operating merely as a kind of reminder or guideline to government in formulating policy. Given that shelter and housing is a major issue in Zimbabwe, this is an important decision that, along with the particular reasoning of the court, will impact on how human rights lawyers handle cases raising such issues in future.

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A crucial judgment with wide-ranging implications for Zimbabwe has been delivered by Zimbabwe’s supreme court – but very few are aware of it and there’s been no comment from the legal, academic or human rights communities even though the decision was handed down in June.

Death penalty case re-visited by Kenya supreme court

Kenya’s supreme court has given special directions in relation to follow-up of its landmark 2017 decision in relation to the mandatory death penalty. At a special sitting of the court, its members questioned a number of court decisions delivered in the wake of the watershed case of Francis Muruatetu and said that the confusion that had arisen needed to be resolved.

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The case of Francis Muruatetu and another convict made world headlines in December 2017 when Kenya’s highest court declared that the mandatory death penalty for murder, imposed in the case of the two men, was unconstitutional.

Zambian statesman Kenneth Kaunda ‘not an ordinary person’ – high court

The family of Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, approached a high court judge with an application to set aside the government’s decision for a state funeral and a two-stage burial for Kaunda, who died in June. The judge, Wildred Muma, refused the application. Though most readers know that he said, as part of his decision, that Kaunda was ‘not an ordinary person’, little is known about the legal reasons he gave for rejecting the application.

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Judge Wilfred Kopa Muma, appointed to the high court in 2019, heard the matter in his chambers, even as preparations for the official burial in Embassy Park were being completed.

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