On Saturday, The Times LIVE reported that “surviving relatives of apartheid victims have filed an application to intervene in the Constitutional Court case of The Citizen v. McBride as amici curiae (friend of the court) in a bid to challenge the ruling that calling people who received amnesty murderers would constitute defamation.”
According to the report, the Supreme Court of Appeals previously found that the “granting of amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) removes the conviction ‘for all purposes'”, and therefore “anyone who describes such acts as ‘murder’ and any statements referring to an amnesty applicant as a ‘murderer’ would now be considered false and a ground for defamation.”
One of the applicants is Joyce Sibanyoni Mbizana, whose brother Justice Mbizana was abducted, tortured and killed by members of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch in 1987. (Read the record of proceedings by the TRC Amnesty Committee here)
Mbasa Mxenge has also applied – the son of human rights lawyers Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, both of whom were killed during the 1980’s. (Read more about the case of Griffiths Mxenge here, and that of Victoria Mxenge and the Duncan Village massacre that followed her funeral, here).
The article further reports that if the Court’s ruling is upheld, Mbizana, Mxenge and other victims “may face an untenable prospect of being sued for defamation, should they speak or publish the full truth by referring to heir loved ones’ killers as murderers.” If their application is granted, they will maintain that “no law may render the truth as false for purposes of public debate and discourse”, and that “freedom to speak the truth about the events of the past, should not be suppressed.” (Full article here)