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School CP - October 1998

ANC Daily News Briefing, 14 October 1998

Constitutional Court dismisses corporal punishment application

JOHANNESBURGH (Sapa) -- The Constitutional Court on Wednesday dismissed an application by Christian Education SA for the reinstitution of corporal punishment in private Christian schools.

Judge Kate O'Regan said the court found that the matter was not of sufficient urgency, and did not justify a direct hearing before the court.

CESA is a voluntary association of 209 Christian schools across the country. They claimed corporal punishment was part of a common culture of such schools which was protected by certain provisions of the Constitution.

The applicants argued that a section of the Act relating to the prohibition of corporal punishment was unconstitutional.

The school directly applied to the Constitutional Court for a hearing, but O'Regan on Wednesday said direct access would mean that the court would not have the benefit of the views of the High Court.

The High Court has jurisdiction under the 1996 Constitution to declare provisions of an Act of Parliament to be invalid.

"Excluding other courts from exercising jurisdiction given to them by the Constitution would not be in the interests of justice and the development of our jurisprudence," the judgment read.

The group of Christian schools argued that the Act prohibiting corporal punishment was unconstitutional to the extent that it applied to independent schools, and to pupils at those schools whose parents consented to corporal punishment.

The Constitutional Court found that direct access should be granted only under exceptional circumstances, and was not warranted in the case of the Christian schools.

All Christian schools in the country contributed to the cost for the application.

Christian Education SA could not be immediately reached for comment.

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