Constitutional Court rules against Radio 786

After the Jewish Board of Deputies’ victory in 2006, Radio 786 launched a series of new applications to prevent the implementation of the sanctions imposed on it by ICASA. These sanctions included being ordered to desist from the broadcasting of hate speech and in general from “the advocacy of hatred against the Jewish people, including the impairment of their dignity”. Radio 786 was further directed to publicise the ruling as well as its full judgment and Sanction Order through the medium of its news broadcasts, website and inhouse news letter and magazine.

The new attacks included a review application to the Cape High Court and an application to the High Court, Johannesburg, to declare all the regulations under which the broadcasting was controlled in South Africa to be invalid. This was a massive onslaught on the legislation and this case was defended by the Minister of Tele-communications and by ICASA. The Board decided to join in as well, although, of course, it had not framed the regulations, but it felt it needed to protect all the years of effort it had put into the matter and to protect in particular the victory it had had at the hearing.

To the Board’s surprise, a single judge n the Witwatersrand local division of the High Court ruled that the regulations ere invalid. The Board and the other interested parties then appealed this decision, which in any event needed to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

In a landmark decision handed down this past December, the Constitutional Court ruled that the regulations were perfectly valid and that the case brought by the radio station had no merit and was dismissed.

Had this case been successful, then the sanctions imposed on the radio station would also have fallen away. What is left now is an application in the Cape High Court — the review application — but perhaps the strongest leg of this application was the point dismissed by the Constitutional Court. The review case is hopefully the last and the Board is confident that it will win.

Although Radio 786 has painted all the court applications under the banner of freedom of speech, the fact is that it is really about Holocaust Denial and the simple inability of Radio 786 to apologise to the Jewish people for what is probably the most recorded and documented genocide ever.


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