Judgment Reserved in ‘OGOD’ Case

by Daniela Ellerbeck
19 May 2017

By Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA)
Via gatewaynews.co.za

Following a three-day hearing earlier this week, the Johannesburg High Court reserved judgment in the landmark case of OGOD (Organisasie vir godsdienste-onderrig en demokrasie) vs 6 public schools.

Legal team representing the SA Council for Religious Rights and Freedoms in the ‘OGOD’ case this week, from the left, Adv Reg Willis, Adv Nadene Badenhorst, and attorneys Catherine Winter and Ursula Kamineth of Motla Conradie Inc.

The schools and various “Friends of the Court” (including the SA Council for Religious Rights and Freedoms, Cause for Justice, Afriforum and Solidarity) have put up a compelling case, but it is impossible to say what the outcome will be.

The legal issues which the three judges (Lamont, Van der Linde and Siwendu) who heard the case have to grapple with, are complex and it could well be a number of weeks or even longer before they deliver their judgment.

One of the main issues that the court will have to decide, is whether our constitution permits public schools to identify with or promote a single-faith ethos (in this case, Christianity) – even in circumstances where other faiths are reasonably accommodated by the school.

OGOD (together with the Minister of Education, as well as the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (CASAC) who is a “Friend of the Court”) argued that it is not permitted; whereas FEDSAS on behalf of the six schools (together with the abovementioned “Friends of the Court”) argued that it is permitted in terms of our constitutional and legal framework and existing case law.

Much legal technical argument revolved around the powers of school governing bodies of public schools; the binding (or non-binding) nature of the National Education Policy; the meaning of “equitability” in section 15(2) of the constitution (relating to the requirements for the conduct of “religious observances” in public schools); and whether OGOD had followed the right legal procedures in bringing this matter to court (the principle of “legislative subsidiarity”).

Thank you to everyone who prayed and showed us their support throughout the proceedings – God is faithful! We will certainly keep you updated with regard to any developments in this matter, which is likely to end up in the Constitutional Court.

*Note: Although FOR SA is not a party in the case, our legal counsel assisted the SA Council for the Protection and Promotion of Religious Rights and Freedoms, who is a “Friend of the Court” in this case.

Support FOR SA

Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the freedoms and rights that the South African Constitution has granted to the faith community. You can help FOR SA protect our freedom by:

  • Praying for us as we defend this precious freedom before government and courts of law;
  • Signing up (at no cost) to FOR SA at https://forsa.org.za/contact-us/join-us/ andsubscribing to our Newsletter;
  • Following us, and sharing our posts, on Facebook  at “Freedom of Religion SA”;
  • Informing us, should you become aware of any case in which religious freedom is threatened;
  • Making a financial contribution to FOR SA at https://forsa.org.za/donate/ As a non-profit organisation, we are entirely dependent upon God’s grace for finances. Your generosity will help make a significant difference as we work to fulfil our mission to keep the Gospel free by advocating for religious freedom. We appreciate every gift, big or small!