Statement: On the Supreme Court’s rejection of the OCA’s leave to appeal

The OCA notes with disappointment the rejection of our application for leave to appeal by
the Supreme Court of Appeal against the Order issued by the Full Court of the Cape High
Court in the matter of the River Club development. Our application for leave to appeal the
order was based, we believe, on sound legal arguments that have not been given an
opportunity to be fully aired as a result of the dismissal of the application.

The Constitutional Court has previously ruled (in the Biowatch case) that unless litigation is frivolous or vexatious or manifestly inappropriate, applicants should not be held liable for costs incurred.

Our papers show clearly that our application was neither frivolous nor vexatious, nor inappropriate and still has substantial prospects of success.

Further, even where a court departs from the principles laid down in Biowatch and awards
costs against a litigant in a public interest matter affecting constitutional rights, the
Constitutional Court indicated that the court “should set out reasons that are carefully
articulated and convincing”. With respect, the Cape High Court provided almost no
reasons, let alone careful or convincing reasons to depart from what the Constitutional
Court mandated.

The OCA is a small independent Civic that has been following all due process to ensure that administrative decisions are made fairly and justifiably. When our appeal against the
Environmental Authorisation for the River Club development was rejected by Minister
Bredell on 21 February 2021, his letter indicated that “My decision is final and your only
recourse, should a person still be aggrieved by my decision, is to apply to the Western Cape High Court to review my decision.”

That is exactly what we have done, with the support of numerous indigenous groups, civics, NGOs, social justice organisations, expert scientist and planners and more than 76 000 signatories to our petition. Sadly, our funding sources have been constantly undermined by complaints to our funding platform and an anonymous campaign to smear the OCA and get members to join the OCA to remove it from the case.

We are consulting our legal team and are considering approaching the Constitutional Court for relief in this matter. It is a matter of Constitutional justice.

Whilst we have the greatest respect for the Courts, the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision and that of the Full Court will unfortunately have a chilling effect on any entity that does not have deep pockets to take on an administrative injustice in South Africa, making a mockery of a Constitution that promises the Promotion of Administrative Justice.