PRESS RELEASE: BDS South Africa wins Palestine Billboards freedom of Expression court battle against Continental Media
16 September 2014
BDS South Africa has won a precedent-setting freedom of expression court battle against one of South Africa's largest advertising companies, Continental Outdoor Media. This past Thursday, 11 September 2014, the Judge of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled against Continental Media and in favour of BDS South Africa (with costs).
BDS South Africa put up Palestine billboards across the country which graphically explained the Israeli Occupation of Palestine in a series of maps that depicted a shrinking Palestinian territory by an increasing Israeli Occupation over the years. Under the maps, "Palestinian Loss of Land - 1946 to 2010" was printed in large letters (See attached for image or click here for photos
After a few days of the Palestine billboards being put up and without prior notification, explanation or communication from the company, Continental Media (in conversation with members of the Israeli lobby) illegally removed BDS South Africa’s Palestine billboards. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) claimed credit for working with Continental Media in removing the billboards. In a joint email circular sent by the SAJBD and SAZF at the time, they said: "On contact with the owners of the billboard site [Continental Outdoor Media]... literally within 6 working hours of the [Palestine solidarity] billboard having gone up – it was removed.” (click here
On Thursday 11 May 2014, the South Gauteng High Court in Case Number 2013/19700, declared that the removal of the Palestine billboards was both "unlawful and unconstitutional" and that Continental Media must within 10 days of the court order re-erect the Palestine billboards. In a move set to expand the limits of free expression, the court also ordered that a certain section of the Outdoor Advertising By-Laws of the City is inconsistent with the Constitution and must be removed. Finally, the court ordered that all costs must be paid by the Continental Media and the respondents (Click here for the full and complete court ruling/judgment here for the full and complete court ruling/judgment).
Members of BDS South Africa would like to thank the legal team headed by Advocate Jason Brickhill and attorneys from the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) who represented BDS South Africa. The Legal Resource Centre is one of South Africa's largest and most prominent public interest and human rights law clinics. The LRC includes as its leaders notable figures such Advocate Geroge Bizos (lawyer and friend of former President Nelson Mandela), Justice Jody Kollapen (former South African Human Rights Commissioner), Janet Love (former anti-apartheid activist and current South African Human Rights Commissioner) and others. BDS South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) have also received pro bono support from the MLA and several other legal experts, all to whom we are grateful. The Board and staff of BDS South Africa would also like to thank all supporters that attended the court case in solidarity with BDS South Africa and the PSA. Continental Media was represented by Advocate Alan Eyles, Professor Iain Currie and the legal firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS).
Mthunzi Mbuli of BDS South Africa welcomed the court victory saying that: "This court victory is a victory against a major corporation by a people's organziation. Continental Media was under the impression that they could squash this issue due to us being an activist organization, however, there were wrong. This court victory is also a victory against the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation who form part of the Israeli lobby in this country and who use bullying and intimidating tactics to interfere with Palestine solidarity efforts. This court victory will provide support to media agencies that come under pressure from the Israeli lobby for covering Palestine solidarity events, adverts and others actions."
This is the second time that BDS South Africa has won a legal matter involving intimidation by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. Previously in 2011 the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, tried (but failed)
to ban a radio advert from being aired on SABC's 5fm radio station. The advert (click here to watch on YouTube
) featured a message of support for the cultural boycott of Israel by Dave Randall (lead guitarist of the UK music band, Faithless).
Given this court victory BDS South Africa has undertaken to increase the number of Palestine solidarity billboards currently put up across the country and are asking members of the community to assist in the fundraising of these billboards that serve as a great source of education and information. Click here
for recent "Nelson Mandela" billboards that were put up in Johannesburg.
ISSUED BY MUHAMMED DESAI ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICABOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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