Legal challenge to South Africa’s never-ending lockdown

 ·16 Nov 2021

Civil society group Afriforum has sent a legal letter of demand to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stating that the continued implementation of national curfews as part of the state of disaster is irrational and unjustified.

In the letter to the minister, Afriforum has requested the following:

  • To be provided with written reasons why there are curfews as well as supporting evidence that curfews are an effective precautionary measure against Covid-19.
  • To be provided with the documents and supporting documents, expert reports, evidence and data which supports the decision to enact curfews.
  • That the implementation of national curfews is ceased with immediate effect.

Afriforum has requested an urgent response by close of business on 19 November 2021.

“The continued forcing of curfews upon the population is unacceptable and not grounded in fact-based evidence. Therefore, Afriforum has stepped in to put a stop to this irrational policy.

“Should Afriforum not receive a response by the above-mentioned date it will be compelled to approach the High Court for relief, pending the Department and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs providing the above-requested data, supporting evidence and reasons,” said Jacques Broodryk, campaigns manager at Afriforum.

On Saturday (13 November), Dlamini-Zuma extended South Africa’s national state of disaster by a further month.

The state of disaster is now set to expire on 15 December 2021. This would make it the 21st month under the state of disaster since it was declared at the end of March 2020, and the 18th extension of the regulations after their first end fate of June 2020.

In a government gazette published over the weekend, the minister said that the extension considers the need to augment the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by the organs of state to address the impact of the disaster.

While the national state of disaster was initially set to lapse on 15 June 2020, the act provides that it can be extended by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister by notice in the gazette for one month at a time before it lapses.

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