SPCA NOT ENTITLED TO BRING PRIVATE PROSECUTION

NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS v MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND ANOTHER 2016 (1) SACR 308 (SCA)

Animal protection offences — Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — Power to bring private prosecution — Restriction in s 7 of CPA of private prosecutions to direct infringement of human dignity and exclusion of juristic persons other than those mentioned in s 8 of Act rationally related to legitimate governmental purpose of limitation of private prosecution and hence not unconstitutional — SPCA not entitled to bring private prosecution — Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, s 7 read with s 8.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals appealed against the dismissal by the High Court of its constitutional challenge to s 7(1)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (the CPA), to the extent that it allowed only private persons, and not a juristic person such as the appellant, to institute a private prosecution.

Held, that private prosecutions in terms of s 7 of the CPA were only permitted on grounds of direct infringement of human dignity. This was the reason for s 7(1)(a) of the CPA (which permitted private prosecutions only where private and personal interests were at stake) and for the exclusion of juristic persons, other than those mentioned in s 8, from instituting private prosecutions. Human dignity was a foundational value of our Constitution and to allow for private prosecutions, other than in terms of s 8 of the CPA, only on grounds of direct infringement of human dignity was rationally related to the legitimate governmental purpose of limitation of private prosecutions. Therefore s 7(1)(a) of the CPA was not unconstitutional.

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