Government back in court over the validity and rationality of lockdown in South Africa

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to appeal a High Court ruling this week, which could have serious implications for the country’s lockdown levels going forward.

The appeal follows a June 2020 North Gauteng High Court ruling which found that South Africa’s level 3 and level 4 lockdown regulations were invalid and unconstitutional.

The court action was initially brought by Reyno Dawid de Beer and the Liberty Fighters Network, who questioned the rationality of certain regulations that were put forward, the City Press reports.

While the High Court found that the declaration of the state of disaster in the country was rational, it agreed that there were numerous regulations that did not pass the “rationality test” of serving the government’s stated goal of preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Dlamini-Zuma is expected to argue that the court only considered six lockdown regulations and that it is unfair to make a sweeping assumption that all of the regulations are unconstitutional and invalid.

The minister is also expected to argue that the regulations sought to protect life and protect the healthcare sector, and that government needed to introduce some restrictions to protect citizens.

The case comes at a pivotal time for the country, as government once again looks at tighter lockdown to prepare for a third wave of Covid-19 infections. On Saturday (22 May) more than 4,000 new cases were reported – the most since the country exited its second wave in February.

On Wednesday (19 May), president Cyril Ramaphosa said that his government is actively tracking the possibility of a third Covid-19 wave in South Africa, but that it has not yet made a decision to introduce a harder lockdown.

“We are watching it very closely, and if (the third wave) comes, we are ready. The issue of a lockdown is something that will only be looked at depending on the severity of the third Covid-19 wave,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that the government was ‘gearing up measures’ in preparation for a third wave, but reiterated that a lockdown would only be looked at depending on how badly the country is hit by an influx in new cases.

Read: New data shows big spike in retrenchments after lockdown in South Africa

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Government back in court over the validity and rationality of lockdown in South Africa