Picture: 123RF/Eduard Skorov
Picture: 123RF/Eduard Skorov

Incrementally, the shadow state that former president Jacob Zuma spent years building up is being peeled back. One of the more profound victories on this front took place this week, as judge Roland Sutherland declared most of the Regulation of Interception of Communications & Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica), which governs the interception of communication, unconstitutional.

The case wound its way to the high court in Pretoria after it emerged in 2015 that Sam Sole, co-founder of the amaBhungane investigative journalism unit, was being spied on without justification. Sutherland ruled that parliament will need to recraft Rica within two years, and any individual being spied on by the state must be told within 90 days.

It’s a victory for privacy. But it also provides greater protection for whistleblowers, who contact journalists to expose devious goings-on. As Sutherland said, journalists "attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the state to smell out adversaries".

At a time when journalists are under attack from all quarters — witness the response of EFF lackeys to the Daily Maverick exposé of how Julius Malema’s lifestyle was funded partly by money looted from VBS Mutual Bank — it’s a big victory for civil society.