The Constitutional Court case yesterday established normal principle that would apply to any equal and fair democratic society. The rise in violence and strikes and demonstrations in the last 10 years is completely unacceptable to society in South Africa. It also unbalances the democratic right to participate or not to participate in industrial action. Research has indicated that the minority of people want to go on many strikes and demonstrations and threaten the majority with violence and intimidatory behaviour. Hundreds of lives have been lost in strikes and demonstrations over the last couple of years and the Constitution Court is recognising that someone has to be liable for such damages and losses.

It is my opinion that civil losses go beyond damage to property and people who are disabled or the estates of those killed would also have a claim against these organisations. If we are to build a fair and free democratic South Africa the right to strike and demonstrate has to be constitutionally guaranteed and backed up by proper enforcement. Unfortunately in strike and protest actions, the lack of effective policing has led to an imbalance in this situation. The net result has been larger increases that the market can bear and ultimately this has led to job losses. It would be interesting to conduct independent research into the effect of some settlements of strikes as a result of violence and the result of violence and intimidatory behaviour and the ultimate effect on jobs over the long term.

Jonathan Goldberg