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Ackermann J

respondents, there has been no appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of this argument. While the concept of ripeness is not precisely defined, it embraces a general principle that where it is possible to decide any case, civil or criminal, without reaching a constitutional issue, that is the course which should be followed.[1]


    Constitutional Law of South Africa third revision service, (Juta & Co Ltd, Kenwyn, 1998) page 8-15. Compare Laurence H Tribe American Constitutional Law 2 ed (The Foundation Press Inc., New York 1988) at 82.

  1. S v Mhlungu and Others 1995 (7) BCLR 793 (CC); 1995 (3) SA 867 (CC) at para 59; Zantsi v Council of State, Ciskei, and Others 1995 (10) BCLR 1424 (CC); 1995 (4) SA 615 (CC) at paras 2–5; Ferreira v Levin NO and Others; Vryenhoek and Others v Powell NO and Others 1996 (1) BCLR 1 (CC); 1996 (1) SA 984 (CC) at para 199 and S v Bequinot 1996 (12) BCLR 1588 (CC); 1997 (2) SA 887 (CC) at paras 12–13. As Chaskalson et al, above n 18 at page 8-15 aptly put it―

    “[w]hile the ‘ripeness’ doctrine is concerned with cases which are brought too early, the ‘mootness’ doctrine is relevant to cases which are brought, or reach the hearing stage, too late, at a time when the issues are no longer ‘live’.”

    Compare Tribe above n 18 at 78.

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