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South African Legal Research
This is a brief guide to researching South African law.
South Africa has undergone tremendous change since apartheid including a new constitution, new constitutional court and a new governmental structure. This guide will provide an introduction to South African legal materials. Most South African materials will be located on the upper level of the Wolff Library at call numbers beginning with KTL.
South African law has an interesting history of Dutch, Roman, English and customary law influence. The publications below offer background on the history and organization of the law. To locate more resources, search the online catalog using keywords to narrow your search results. For example, < south africa truth reconciliation > or < south africa customary. >
- History of South Africa
Notable publication in e-book format and print (earlier edition) covering the time period precolonial to 2000.
- Introduction to the Law of South Africa Intl KTL68 .I583 2004
This book opens with an introductory chapter on the legal system and then follows with chapters arranged by law subject, such as constitutional law, civil procedure law, law of property, etc.
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, was approved by the Constitutional Court (CC) on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997. It is a unique and lengthy document that includes rights to housing, health care, food, and water. We've also included some publications about the history and creation of the South African constitution. There are many more books, so be sure to search the online catalog.
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
This is from the South African government and includes a pdf version from the Statutes of the Republic of South Africa. It is unclear if the pdf has all the current amendments. Previous versions of the constitution and text of amendments are also available.
- Constitutional Law of South Africa
This four volume looseleaf is a comprehensive survey. It is also available on Westlaw (CLOSA).
- HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated TryIt
Fabulous collection of South African constitutions and relevant, historic British acts of Parliament. Also provides links to scholarly commentary and articles (only to those available on HeinOnline, so you should also search other journal databases).
- Constitutions of the Countries of the World
This database contains the full text of constitutions from over 190 countries. The database contains English translations for all the countries, plus introductory and comparative notes that review recent amendments and provide historical and political information. This is the electronic equivalent of the print version located in Wolff at INTL K3157.A2 B54 (we also maintain a print archive of older constitutions from this set).
- One Law, One Nation: The making of the South African Constitution Intl KTL2101 .S44 2012
This book includes new archival materials (such has Mandela's notes) to discuss the the background of the constitution.
- The Soul of a Nation: Constitution-making in South Africa Intl KTL2070 .E27 1998 by Hassen Ebrahim
Discusses the historic process in a chronological arrangement and includes various letters, speeches, memoranda, etc.
- Constitutional Assembly Database
This robust collection of documents is presently inaccessible due to a computer crash. There is a ongoing project to restore the datafiles.
Statutes & Codes
- Foreign Law Guide Database
This database is useful when you are searching for a particular law, such as marriage act, investment law, etc. Simply select "South Africa" as your jurisdiction, then browse the subject headings.
- Juta's Statutes of South Africa Intl KTL12.S6
The South African statutes laws by a major South African legal publisher.
- Laws of South Africa
This new website is a work in progress by the University of Pretoria so not all South African legislation is included just yet. It provides updated and consolidated legislation, regulations to acts, and historical legislation.
- Parliament of South Africa
Official parliament web site with links to acts, bills, hansard, and other documents.
- Southern African Legal Information Institute
This free website has useful databases with current legislation, numbered acts, regulations, and previous versions of legislation and regulations. Coverage years vary. The South African government offers a chronological listing of acts since 1991 (not searchable) with links to pdfs from the official gazette. Repealed acts are listed in a separate section
- Lexis - Butterworths Statutes of South Africa
Note: Many international and foreign materials have not migrated to the new Lexis Advance platform. You may need to access Lexis.com from Lexis Advance to get these materials. On the older Lexis platform, these statutes can be found at Legal > Find Laws by Country or Region > Commonwealth > Legislation & Regulations > Butterworths Statutes of South Africa. This is a complete and editorially enhanced compilation of South African Statutes (Acts), including legislation since the abolishment of apartheid. From 1910 to present.
- South African Constitutional Law Reports
Selected decisions (1991 - present) from the Supreme Court and new Constitutional Court of South Africa pertaining to Bill of Rights and other aspects of the new Constitution. Also includes key constitutional law decisions from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Most decisions are in English, but some are in Afrikaans. The print version is in the Wolff Library and the electronic version is on Lexis at Legal > Find Laws by Country or Region > South Africa > Case Law > Butterworths South African Constitutional Law Reports. Again, since many international materials haven't migrated to Lexis Advance, we suggest using Lexis.com.
- South African Law Reports: Decisions of the Supreme Courts of South Africa Intl KTL18.35194 .S625
Selected decisions (1947 - present) from the following courts are included in this set: Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal, the provincial High Courts, and the Supreme Courts and High Courts of Namibia and Zimbabwe.
- The Law Library also subscribes to the South African Criminal Law Reports Intl KTL3796.3 S6 and South African Tax Cases Intl KTL3546.3 .S68.
- Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)
This free web site has many different South African court databases. Check here first if SAFLII covers the court you need. Coverage time periods differ between courts.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The TRC was created by the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act to investigate, examine and expose the violent, human rights abuses under apartheid. The goal was not criminal prosecution, but uncovering the truth from victims and perpetrators to prompt a healing conversation among all South Africans. The seventeen commissioners gathered information and took testimony from thousands of victims.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
This official website includes major legislation, hearings, policy documents, etc. The TRC published a multi-volume report available online or in print at the Wolff Library.
- Carrots and Sticks: The TRC and the South African Amnesty Process Intl KTL2689 .S23 2004
Specifically examines the element of amnesty in the TRC such as the legitimacy of amnesty requests and the application of legal criteria
- Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Did the TRC Deliver? Intl DT1974.2 .T775 2008
This book is based on a six year study and evaluates the TRC examining the victim and amnesty hearings, truth findings, and the public's response to the work of the TRC.
The library subscribes to many different South African journals and those listed below are just a starting point. You should search our online catalog to locate others.
- Acta Juridica HeinOnline and INTL K1.C83
This annual journal is published by the law faculty at the University Of Cape Town.
- Annual Survey of South African Law
Organized by subject area, this authoritative annual review surveys the latest trends in South African law. It is an excellent source for identifying relevant statutes and court decisions. It is available on HeinOnline (check for coverage dates) and in the Wolff Library at INTL KTL12 .A56 (print has the most recent years).
- South African Journal on Human Rights HeinOnline and INTL K23.O6
This journal has in-depth articles examining many aspects of human right within South Africa.
- South African Yearbook of International Law HeinOnline and INTL KZ21.S59
The focus of this journal is international law and most of the authors are South African. There is a useful list of treaties signed during the year and summaries of important case decisions.
- Researching South African Law
This invaluable research guide is written by two South African law librarians and is a good place to begin when researching this jurisdiction. The structure of the state, courts, legislative bodies and even includes a very useful list of law related links relevant to South African legal research.
- Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Official web site that includes legislation, acts, papers, and other publications. South Africa has a bicameral system consisting of the National Assembly (directly elected by voters) and the National Council of Provinces (elected by the provinces).
- South Africa Government Online
Portal to all government web sites. Try government departments to access specific ministries.
Revised 11/13 (MMS)
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