oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The demise of salus republicae suprema lex in South Africa: emergency rule in terms of the 1996 constitution

Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



It is essential to make provision for the threat to the existence of law and order arising from serious civil commotion, national disaster and threat of armed invasion, even in demographically homogeneous, democratic and relatively peaceful states. This is even more true in deeply divided communities, like South Africa, with its traumatic history of racial oppression, where the threat of civil commotion and even civil war are more likely. Therefore, the advent of democracy and the constitutional state has not made the provision for emergency rule less necessary. However, the greater the commitment to a Bill of Rights, the more difficult it is to frame emergency powers. Nevertheless, the decision to include a section on suspension of fundamental rights and on states of emergency in the constitution was controversial.

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