Civil group takes Ramaphosa to court over lockdown – argues that ‘Covid-19 cannot be harmful to Africans’

A South African civil society group named the Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation has taken president Cyril Ramaphosa to the Constitutional Court over the country’s 21-day lockdown.

South Africa’s lockdown was implemented at midnight on Thursday 26 March and prohibits South Africans from leaving their homes for anything other than essential services in an attempt to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

According to a report by the Sunday Times, HBR argues this lockdown is unconstitutional and that the COVID-19 coronavirus “poses no serious threat to the country and its people”.

“HBR Foundation believes that COVID-19 cannot be harmful to Africans,” the foundation said.

HBR’s argument is based on reports which incorrectly state that some people are resistant to COVID-19 based on non-medical criteria such as their country of origin.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 coronavirus is potentially dangerous to all people regardless of age, gender, race, and many other factors – it is a global pandemic which has spread to almost every country around the world.

HBR previously lost a case in the Constitutional Court in 2011, where it argued that Soweto should have its own municipality.

The report acknowledged a different case against the 21-day lockdown which did succeed – US citizens were trapped in South Africa after system inefficiencies at Home Affairs resulted in their adoption of a child taking much longer than expected to resolve.

These citizens were granted special leave to return to the United States during the period of the lockdown.

Cases on the rise

The number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases has continued to rise following the implementation of the lockdown in SA.

South Africa now has 1,187 confirmed cases of the virus, with one confirmed death.

Gauteng leads the number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 533, followed by the Western Cape on 271 and KwaZulu-Natal on 156.

“We must outrightly state that these numbers do not indicate a reduction in the number of infections,” health minister Zweli Mkhize said.

He said it is merely a reflection of positive results that were received, verified and ready for reporting.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases explained it is actively cleaning COVID-19 patient data to ensure that the information is verified and accurate.

“As such, figures may not always add up sequentially due to the activities being performed with regard to data cleaning and quality assurance of the dataset.”

Lockdown arrests

During the first day of the lockdown in SA, 55 people were arrested for breaking its rules.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said 172 roadblocks had been put up around the country, with just under 24,000 SA police officers, metro police, and other enforcers manning them.

It was also confirmed that SANDF soldiers have been deployed to all provinces in South Africa.

While there were initially some cases where the requirements of the national lockdown were not observed, many South Africans are now adhering to the requirement to stay home.

South Africans are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine, to seek medical attention, and to collect a social grant.


Read: South Africa turns to IMF and World Bank for coronavirus aid

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Civil group takes Ramaphosa to court over lockdown – argues that ‘Covid-19 cannot be harmful to Africans’