The producers of award-winning movie "Inxeba (The Wound)" can celebrate yet another victory in their legal battle with the Film and Publications Board (FPB), the Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa), and various other traditional organisations.
On Thursday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the FPB's appeal tribunal process for the film was legally flawed, and should be reviewed and set aside. This means that the film's "hardcore pornography" classification was overturned. Producer Cait Pansegrouw saidthey are pleased by the decision.
BREAKING: Judge Raulinga finds that Appeal Tribunal process for #Inxeba reclassification was legally flawed, and should be reviewed and set aside.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) June 28, 2018
As a consequence, #Inxeba porn classification is overturned.
"We are delighted that the court upheld the contentions that the appeal tribunal's decision was unlawful and invalid... this vindicates the position taken by the film team all along," Pansegrouw told HuffPost.
She also thanked their lawyers from Webber Wentzel.
We want to personally thank Webber Wentzel and our incredible legal team; Dario Milo, Steven Budlender, Matseleng Lekoane and Lavanya Pillay, as well as our distributor, Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution.— Inxeba (The Wound) (@TheWound_SAfilm) June 28, 2018
Contralesa president Kgosi Mokwena has expressed his shock, saying the organisation respected the decision, but they were not happy.
"We were expecting another version from a court that understands the issues. This ruling disregards African customary law," Mokwena alleged to City Press "It seems the Roman-Dutch legal system will continue to rule against our black culture. We will continue the fight to be recognised."
The FPB appeals tribunal decided in February this year that the film, which is about a queer Xhosa romance between two male helpers/nurses at an initiation school, would be banned from mainstream South African cinemas, and could only be screened at "designated adult premises".
This came after nationwide protests and cinema shutdowns headed by Contralesa against the film, which had its 16LS classification increased to an X18 rating by the FPB for "classifiable elements of sex, language, nudity, violence and prejudice".
After the matter was taken to court by the producers, the high court ruled that "Inxeba" could be viewed at selected cinemas, and reversed the X18 rating.
This led to traditional leaders appealing the decision, which led to the latest judgment on Thursday.