South Africa’s curfew could face legal action

The Democratic Alliance says it will consider challenging the proposed introduction of a nightly curfew as part of South Africa’s Level 4 lockdown restrictions.

First announced as part of a draft framework on Saturday (25 April), the curfew will place limitations on the times when South Africans are allowed to leave their homes, and travel.

The DA said that this curfew will likely be enforced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), with over 70,000 authorised for  deployment during the lockdownt by president Cyril Ramaphosa.

“There is no need for militarisation and a formal curfew when citizens understand and trust the need for the limitations on freedom of movement. No amount of force or coercion will bolster compliance in the absence of understanding and trust,” it said.

“If the government fails to heed our warning to rescind the planned enforcement of a military curfew, the DA reserves our right to challenge the move in court, because we place our trust in citizens rather than in coercion.”

The party said it wants to ascertain the reasons and rationale behind instituting the curfew, explore the various legal avenues available to it, and will not hesitate to use the legal system to protect citizens from any abuses by the security forces.

Too many restrictions

The party also indicated that the government’s approach to specifying who can and cannot work in Level 4 is ‘unnecessarily blunt and restrictive’.

It added that many businesses which could be operating without significantly increasing the spread of the virus will be forced to remain closed.

“If people and businesses are empowered with information about the risk that the virus poses to themselves and their community, and how that can be mitigated, most will play by a reasonable set of rules,” it said.

“An authoritarian approach made sense initially, but as time goes on decision-making power needs to become more dispersed, within a given set of justified rules. If rules are reasonable, people tend to follow them. And those who don’t will be kept in line through peer pressure and whistle-blowing.”

Read: South Africa is getting a new lockdown curfew – here’s how it works

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South Africa’s curfew could face legal action