Glossary

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A

Act

A law, also known as a statute or legislation.

Amicus curiae

A person or organisation that, with the court’s permission, gets involved in a court case to assist the court with special insight or expertise on matters that may have a bearing on the case. Also known as a “friend of the court”.

Assent

When the President signs a Bill into law (as per s 79 of the Constitution).

B

Bill

A proposed law. Normally written by a State department and submitted to Parliament for deliberation.

Bill of Rights

Found in Chapter 2 of the Constitution and contains the full list of human (also known as fundamental) rights for everyone in South Africa.

By-law

A law made by a local municipality (as per s 156(2) of the Constitution).

C

CGE

The Commission for Gender Equality. A State institution established in Chapter 9 of the Constitution and whose functions are set out in s 187 of the Constitution.

Chapter 9 institutions

State institutions established in terms of Chapter 9 of the Constitution to support constitutional democracy, including the CGE, CRL and SAHRC.

Constitution

The highest law in South Africa. Any action and/or law that is inconsistent with it, is unconstitutional and illegal.

Constitutional Court

The highest court in South Africa, situated in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Common law

Law that has been made by the courts (through their judgments) over centuries, and which is not contained in a statute.

Crimen iniuria

A common law crime where a person intentionally and seriously injures someone’s dignity in a way that is unlawful (i.e. that it goes outside the boundaries of society’s good morals).

CRL

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. A State institution established in Chapter 9 of the Constitution and whose functions are set out in s 185 of the Constitution.

CSE

Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

D

Democracy

A form of government where the people participate in government by electing their representatives.

E

Equality

Human right entrenched in s 9 of the Constitution.

Equality Act

Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (2000), also known as PEPUDA.

Equality Court

A specialised court (of the high court, or magistrate’s court) designated to hear matters in terms of the Equality Act.

Executive

The branch of government responsible for enforcing the law as written by Parliament and interpreted by the courts. For example: State departments. The Executive is accountable to Parliament.

F

FOR SA

Freedom of Religion South Africa, a legal advocacy organisation working to protect and promote religious freedom in South Africa.

FPB

Film and Publication Board.

Freedom of association

Human right entrenched in s 18 of the Constitution.

Freedom of expression

Human right entrenched in s 16 of the Constitution.

“Friend of the Court”

A person or organisation that, with the court’s permission, gets involved in a court case to assist the court with special insight or expertise on matters that may have a bearing on the case. Also known as an amicus curiae.

H

Hate speech

The advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. Prohibited by s 16(2)(c) of the Constitution.

Human dignity

Human right entrenched in s 10 of the Constitution.

Judiciary

The courts. The branch of government that interprets the law.

L

Legislature

Parliament. The branch of government that makes the law. Made up of members elected by the citizens as their representatives.

LGBTQ+

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc.

Limitations clause

Section 36 of the Constitution. Sets out the circumstances under which a fundamental right in the Bill of Rights can reasonably and justifiably be limited/infringed upon.

M

Minister

Head of a State department. Part of the executive branch of government. Can make regulations.

P

PAIA

Promotion of Access to Information Act (2000).

PAJA

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (2000).

Parliament

The legislative branch of government that makes the law, and comprising two houses namely the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. Made up of members elected by the citizens as their representatives (referred to as “Members of Parliament”). Parliament is accountable to the people of South Africa.

PEPUDA

Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (2000), also known as the Equality Act.

POPI

Protection of Personal Information Act (2013).

Portfolio committee

Parliament divides into different portfolio committees, with a committee for each corresponding government department. Parliament’s law‑making and oversight over the executive happens in these committees.

Privacy

Human right entrenched in s 14 of the Constitution.

Public participation

Public involvement in Parliament’s law-making process, normally either through submissions or hearings.

R

Regulation

Made by a Minister in terms of a specific law and sets out how to practically implement that law, for example which forms need to be filled in etc.

Religious freedom

Human right entrenched in s 15 of the Constitution.

S

SACRRF

South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms. A document endorsed by multiple religious groups, communities and leaders in South Africa and which explains the various elements of the right to religious freedom. The custodians of the SACRFF is the Council for the Protection and Promotion of Religious Rights and Freedoms.

SAHRC

The South African Human Rights Commission. A State institution established in Chapter 9 of the Constitution and whose functions are set out in s 184 of the Constitution.

SCA

The Supreme Court of Appeal, the second highest court in South Africa, situated in Bloemfontein, Free State.

SCOTUS

Supreme Court of the United States of America. The highest court in America.

Statute

A law, also known as an Act.

U

UN

United Nations. An international organisation established after World War 2 with the aim of preventing future wars. Made up of various member states.

Unfair discrimination

When you, without a good reason in law, withhold a benefit or impose a burden on someone, because of e.g. their race, gender, religion, etc. Illegal in terms of s 9(4) of the Constitution.