Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma plans to oppose a legal challenge to set aside South Africa’s latest extension of the state of disaster.
The case is being brought by civil society group Dear South Africa which has approached the High Court to set aside the ‘lockdown extension’ which was introduced on 13 November.
The group is arguing that the lockdown extensions are illogical and are being done without parliamentary oversight, as required by the Constitution.
Dear South Africa is also asking the court to declare the latest lockdown extension under the Disaster Management Act unlawful.
Dear SA managing director Rob Hutchinson said that Dlamini-Zuma officially opposed the application on Tuesday afternoon. The case is now set to be heard in court on 1 December 2020, provided there are no further delays.
“South Africa is no longer faced with the uncertainties that it was confronted with when the initial state of disaster was enacted,” said Daniel Eloff of Hurter Spies, the attorneys representing Dear South Africa said in its court documents.
“Consequently, government cannot continue to piggyback on a state of disaster for which the underlying and motivating reason has largely dispersed eight months since the initial declaration of the national state of disaster.”
The only respondent in the case is Dlamini-Zuma.
In an affidavit before the court, Hutchinson said that Constitutional rights have been curtailed by the disaster regulations, including the rights to freedom of movement, residence, assembly, economic activity and education.
Businesses were shut down at the start of the Covid lockdown, schools were closed, and citizens’ rights to move and practice their professions and trades were severely curtailed.
“While many of these restrictions on fundamental rights have been lifted, the (minister) has imposed these restrictions without parliamentary oversight and may reimpose them.
“The (minister) is empowered to extend the state of disaster monthly ad infinitum without such oversight,” said the court application.