The Importance Of Protesting In South Africa

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1. Introduction Protesting is one of the most effective ways in which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of expression. They can express their views on political issues, as well as actively play a part in public matters; making this form of expression an essential part of a participatory democracy. There are however limitations placed on this right. In this essay these limitations will be discussed in respect of their constitutionality. 2. Protesting and South African law The right to protest is supported by fundamental human rights such as; the right of freedom of assembly, demonstration, picket and petition, freedom of expression and freedom of association as provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (hereafter the Constitution). The Regulations of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 (hereafter “Gatherings Act”) regulates the rights of others during protesting and defines what is seen as a gathering and a protest. Protesting cannot be curtailed as in the apartheid period, due to the rights set out in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It should be noted that the Gatherings Act which regulates protests came into operation before the Constitution and values that were applicable in 1993 may no longer apply in light of the values that were and are still evident in the 1996 Constitution. Protesting cannot be interfered with due to irreconcilable opinions, be it either political, religious, inconvenience or to cause a nuisance. 3. Limitations
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