PRESS RELEASE: Landmark judgment handed down by Constitutional Court on management of TB in prisons
PRMonitor:home>>news release>>

PRESS RELEASE: Landmark judgment handed down by Constitutional Court on management of TB in prisons

 

Today, the Constitutional Court overturned a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the matter of Dudley Lee vs. the Minister of Correctional Services. 
 
This is a landmark case that highlights the State's responsibility for ensuring that the constitutional rights of detainees are maintained and safeguarded. The Court described the judgment as "of importance, not only to the parties, but also to other inmates and the health sector generally"[1]. The judgment also upholds the right to a remedy for individuals in the position of Lee.
 
The majority of the Court found that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) negligently caused Dudley Lee to become infected with tuberculosis (TB) while it detained Lee in Pollsmoor prison from 1999 to 2004. The Court therefore held that the DCS should be liable to Lee.
 
After several years of incarceration, Lee was eventually acquitted of the charges against him and released. Lee then sued the Minister for negligence in the Western Cape High Court. This court ruled that DCS was liable for the damages suffered by Lee as a result of TB as the Department had violated its own health regulations, failed to perform its constitutional obligations and violated Lee's constitutional rights.
 
The SCA, however, overturned that decision. It admitted that the State was negligent in fighting TB in Pollsmoor, but claimed that Lee could not prove that this negligence caused his infection.
 
In overturning the SCA ruling, the Constitutional Court said the test for causation had been applied too rigidly by the SCA and that Lee had, in fact, sufficiently proven that he contracted TB as a result of the DCS's negligence. In reaching this conclusion, the Court stressed the importance of flexibility in determining issues of causation.
 
The Court reasoned: 
 
"I stress that on the approach adopted by the Supreme Court of Appeal it is unlikely that any inmate will ever be able to overcome the hurdle of causation and further, no effective alternative remedy will be available to a person in the position of the applicant."[2] 
 
It also confirmed that: 
 
"It is indeed so that prisoners are amongst the most vulnerable in our society to the failure of the state to meet its constitutional and statutory obligations ... To suggest otherwise, in circumstances where a legal duty exists to protect Lee and others similarly placed, will fail to give effect to their rights to human dignity, bodily integrity and
the right to be detained in conditions that are consistent with human dignity under the Constitution, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, and medical treatment."[3] 
 
It therefore held that Lee had proven his case. It ordered the Western Cape High Court to consider how much compensation should be paid to Lee.
 
On 6 August 2012, the Wits Justice Project, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, and Treatment Action Campaign, represented by SECTION27, were admitted as amici curiae (friends of the court) in the matter. In its judgement today the Court emphasised that the amici's "written submissions have been most helpful and for [them] we are grateful". 
 
In the absence of adherence to known protocols and procedures, TB and HIV will continue to spread through our prisons and to the rest of society. The need for properly ventilated cells needs to be enforced, as does the need to find solutions to the chronic overcrowding in our prisons. 
 
Today's judgment is a major step forward for campaigns to ensure that prisoners' rights to healthcare and dignity are respected, including through adequate measures to prevent and treat tuberculosis. 
 
We applaud and congratulate Lee and the Court. We also thank Advocate Adila Hassim for her work in this ground-breaking case.
 
We also call on the DCS to take immediate steps to remedy the horrendous conditions to which prisoners and awaiting trial detainees are subjected. The Court has been clear that this is the State's duty and that the State has failed in that duty. It has also been clear that the State must be held accountable for that failure. The DCS must take swift, certain steps to fulfil its duty. This is a matter of the utmost importance for human rights and public health.
 
The full judgment is available at: 
 
http://www.constitutionalcourt.org.za/site/leevmc.htm
 
We will study the judgment further and provide a more detailed analysis in the near future.
 
END
 
* Joint Press Statement: Landmark judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court on the management of tuberculosis in prisons
 
For further comments please contact:
 
* Wits Justice Project: 
 
Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi on nooshin.erfani-ghadimi@wits.ac.za or 084-283-1445
 
* Centre for Applied Legal Studies:
 
Kathleen Hardy on kathleen.hardy@wits.ac.za or 082-556-5196
 
* TAC:
 
Lihle Dlamini on lihle@tac.org.za or 073-318-9320
 
* SECTION27: 
 
John Stephens on stephens@section27.org.za or 073-077-5779
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

SEND PR
Get your press releases to the most influential media outlets, editors, journalists, freelancers, news portals, social media networks, bloggers and industry analysts in an instant.
more>>

PR WRITING
Tell us what you want written and our professional news team will help you reach your goals.
more>>

BUSA to seek high level meeting on Eskom power emergency

Business Confidence Claws Back

NAAMSA new vehicle sales drop 3.1% in February

SACCI Copper Theft Barometer up in January

Further Deterioration of Trade Conditions

The Role of NDP in Growing Small Business

Pretoria Zoo crocs get a new reason to smile

Is Price Still King

Half of users believe banks will refund their money in the event of cyber theft

E-tolls must be debated by provincial legislatures

Statement on Forensic Report on Electoral Commision

Local Government Revenue and Expenditure: Second Quarter Local Government Section 71 Report

OPINION: Invoking the wrath of the gods

Nudge: A new communications tactic

PRESS RELEASE: OUTA remains defiant - purchase of e-tags in not law

PRESS RELEASE: UDM reax to Johannesburg

PRESS RELEASE: ANC Gauteng thanks 400 000 residents

PRESS RELEASE: Call to young South Africans: Register to vote!

PRESS RELEASE: Message of support to all learners and students for exams

SPEECH: Can good governance increase trust amongst Govt, CS, Labour and Business?

Pomposity and purple prose

MEDIA ADVISORY: Gordhan to present Budget on February 26

PRESS RELEASE: Minister Gordhan on Mr Mackay's death

PRESS RELEASE: Kumba ICT Concourt judgment

PRESS RELEASE: Minister Patel welcomes High Court decision on scrap metal export system for South Africa

MEDIA ALERT: Gigaba, Nzimande to host intake of 1 000 learner artisans

PRESS RELEASE: COSATU NW on the non-compliances of the municipalities

PRESS RELEASE: SAICA supports the AGSA general report of audit results of national and provincial government

PRESS RELEASE: Joburg Road Closures for the of opening of the Orange AFCON 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Joburg's faith groups urged to support Afcon 2013 through prayer

PRESS RELEASE: Sod turning heralds plans to enhance FNB Stadium pitch

MEDIA ALERT: US Secretary of Commerce launches 'Doing Businesss in Africa' initiative with BUSA

PRESS RELEASE: Statement on Operation "Pillar of Defense" and announcements of countrywide pickets

MEDIA ALERT: Busa to host chairperson of AU Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

South Africa and Czech Republic recommitted to boost trade relations

SA-EU Business Forum to be inaugurated in Brussels

Improved N14 route between Delareyville and Sannieshof is opened

SANRAL builds roads - and people

N1 Polokwane road closure

OUTA urges MPs to look beyond SANRAL

E-tolls: the system is working but not without some challenges

Platinum mine strike not good for the workers

COSATU response to Public Protector

DA economic policy reinforces apartheid privileges

NUM statement on the State Of The Nation Address

Racism again at Sun International resort

MEDIA ALERT: Start your own business

PRESS ALERT: Financial Co-operatives’ Indaba

PRESS RELEASE: 12 Finalists Announced for the 2012 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship

PRESS RELEASE: SAA crisis shows why effective succession planning is crucial for SMEs

PRESS RELEASE: Social Enterprises may be SA’s only option

PRESS RELEASE: NUM disappointed as Anglo reinforces boys club mentality

PRESS RELEASE: Tri-partite announcement on Amplats restructuring proposals

Grindrod and Northwest Rail Company partner to develop the Copper Railway in Zambia

New rail leasing entity established for Africa

PRESS RELEASE: Cargo Carriers’ subsidiary brings innovation and reliability to bulk haulage

PRESS RELEASE: Grindrod subsidiary, Vanguard, completes erection of first wind-energy farm

PRESS RELEASE: Grindrod receives green light to acquire RACEC

Agri-Vie Invests $5 Million Into Kariki Group

PRESS RELEASE: Agri-Vie invests 49.9% state in joint Terason and Technichem business

PRESS RELEASE: Agri-Vie announces 63% stake in Cape Olive Holdings

PRESS RELEASE: Agri-Vie invests $6m in Tanzania Food Corporation

PRESS RELEASE: Marel and Three Streams Smokehouse introduce ground-breaking fish processing system

PRESS RELEASE: Awareness vital in preventing onset of heart disease

Cipla Nutrition announces Pain & Gain body makeover competition winner

Setting realistic goals key to keeping 2014 fitness reslotions

PRESS RELEASE: Joshua Capazorio chooses Cipla Nutrition

PRESS RELEASE: Cipla Medpro 'Ajuga' to address South Africa's shack fire crisis

PRESS RELEASE: SA pharmacists support greater public-private collaboration - survey

PRESS RELEASE: Smart tips for festive savings this Christmas

Orion Group finishes 2013 with double-digit growth in Hotel Division

Limited trade commences in Vodacom YeboYethu Scheme

Vodacom comment on ICASA termination rate statement

PRESS RELEASE: Vodacom recognised as Best Performer on JSE SRI Index

PRESS RELEASE: Interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Vodacom supports reduction in mobile termination rates, raises concerns on asymmetry

Nedbank appoints Epic Communications as its PR agency

Nedbank Fair Share 2030 starts with Targeted Lending of R6 billion

PRESS RELEASE: Absa named South Africa’s best bank in Service Excellence

PRESS RELEASE: Armien Tyer to join Absa as Head of Investments

PRESS RELEASE: Absa multi-currency travel card uptake at 77%

PRESS RELEASE: IBM appoints ICT Worx as the first IBM Authorised Training Partner

PRESS RELEASE: PBT Group expands

PRESS RELEASE: Samsung cloud strategy driven by access devices

PRESS RELEASE: The African potential for tablets

PRESS RELEASE: Samsung inks a trendsetting smart solutions partnership deal with the Rwanda Government

PRESS RELEASE: RGT Smart appoints new financial director

RGT Smart appoints new financial director

Copyright | Terms of Service