Landmark judgment for children
This week in the Supreme Court of Appeal, judgment was handed down that will affect the protection of children’s rights when they are participating in public interest litigation.
It is also an important judgment for all vulnerable groups of people whose rights of confidentiality are pro- tected through public interest litigation.
The children were represented by the Centre for Child Law, assisted by the Legal Resources Centre.
The case involved a group of 37 English-speaking pupils placed in Hoërskool Fochville, an Afrikaans single-medium school, by the Department of Basic Education, due to a shortage of spaces.
Hoërskool Fochville opposed the decision to enrol these pupils and took the department to court.
The Centre for Child Law and Legal Resources Centre represented the pupils.
As part of this process, the children filled in questionnaires about their experiences at the school.They would be represented anonymously.
The school demanded to see the questionnaires but the Centre for Child Law refused to hand them over.
The matter was taken to the Johannesburg High Court, which ordered the Centre to allow the school to inspect the original questionnaires and gave a cost order against it.
The two organisations appealed the decision.
The Supreme Court of Appeal concluded that the High Court did not attach sufficient weight to the rights of the children to confidentiality.
It overturned the decision of the High Court and the Centre does not have to disclose the questionnaires to the school.