On 11 July 2017, Equal Education members and staff gathered for a peaceful protest outside the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s (KZN DOE) offices. The purpose of the gathering was to screen EE’s film, the Long Walk to School, which tells the story of two learners’ journeys to and from school, and the consequences this has in accessing a quality, safe and dignified education, as guaranteed under the Constitution. Despite EE following all the processes required by law, and the Regulation of Gatherings Act in particular, the KZN DOE and the SAPS unlawfully dispersed EE’s peaceful and unarmed protest. In forcing EE’s members (including many children under 18 years old) and staff to disperse, the KZN Department of Education and SAPS threatened the use of violence, including firing teargas at those gathered.
Since October 2017, EE and its legal representatives at the EELC have been trying to get a written response from the KZN DOE and SAPS to this blatant violation of EE’s and its members’ rights. As a result of the KZN DOE’s and SAPS’ lack of responsiveness, EE has launched a case in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. EE is asking the court to declare the KZN DOE’s and SAPS’ dispersal of EE’s protest unlawful and a violation of the right to protest. In addition, EE is asking the court to order the KZN DOE and SAPS to apologise to EE, its members and the public generally, and that the apology must reaffirm the right to protest and its importance to democracy.
Current Status: This matter was heard on 2 August 2019. Judgment was reserved.
Media Statement: Equal Education’s media statement can be viewed here.
Click below to view key court documents