Page:NCGLE v Minister of Home Affairs.djvu/6

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Ackermann J

The High Court’s refusal of a postponement to the respondents

[5]The respondents did not file any answering affidavits in the High Court. Less than twenty-four hours before the matter was due to be heard by the High Court, the respondents sought a postponement of the hearing. They tendered costs on the attorney and client scale, coupled with an undertaking that the status quo with regard to the second to thirteenth applicants would persist until the final determination of the matter. The purpose was, according to the respondents, to:

“… file comprehensive answering affidavits, as this Honourable Court would otherwise be left with little assistance regarding the purpose and practical implementation of the statutory provisions in question and the Government’s reasons for opposing this application. These include issues of ripeness and the meaning, nature and purpose of the fundamental rights on which the Applicants rely, any issues of justification which arise, and the nature of the interim and final relief described in the Applicants’ heads of argument …”

The High Court refused the application for postponement.

[6]The relevant surrounding facts are detailed in the judgment of the High Court and need not be repeated here; their gist is summarised in the following passage of Davis J’s judgment:

“In this case the respondents were served with the applicants’ papers some seven months before the matter came before this Court. Persistent efforts were made by the applicants to remind the respondents of their obligations not only to this Court but ultimately to the Constitutional Court. No explanation was provided as to why the respondents had chosen to ignore the proceedings for more than seven months. Mr Mokoena’s [the DG’s] affidavit simply states that the cabinet decided the day before the hearing that the