An application for leave to appeal by a man claiming he contracted tuberculosis (TB) while in prison through the negligence of prison authorities will be heard by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the Treatment Action Campaign, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, and Wits Justice Project, all represented by Section27, were granted permission to join the case as friends of the court.
The rights groups said the case held serious consequences for human rights, public health and the fight against TB in South Africa.
According to the groups, Dudley Lee was healthy when he was sentenced to serve time in Pollsmoor Prison in 2000.
Three years later, he was diagnosed with TB, and the following year he was acquitted and released.
Lee took the department of correctional services to the Western Cape High Court, which found that the ministry was unable to show that prison authorities had taken any steps to prevent the spread of TB.
The department appealed against the ruling, and won in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
The SCA found that Lee could not prove that the minister caused his infection. The SCA had asked Lee to prove that which was impossible to prove, the rights groups said.
If the SCA judgment stood, victims would be left without a remedy for violations of their rights and the department would be permitted to disregard its obligations with impunity, they said.
They intended picketing outside the court and at Pollsmoor prison on Tuesday. - Sapa