New case focuses on a South African who wanted to travel between provinces during the coronavirus lockdown

On Friday (27 March), the Mpumalanga High Court heard an urgent application from a man who asked to be exempt from South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown regulations so that he may travel between provinces.

In terms of the regulations, the movement of all persons and goods are restricted while the lockdown is in effect.

Every person is confined to his or her place of residence, unless strictly for the purposes of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social ground, or seeking emergency, lifesaving or chronic medical attention.

The movement of persons between provinces and between metropolitan and district areas is also strictly prohibited with punishments including fines and up to six months in jail.

The applicant who applied to travel between provinces currently resides in Mbombela in Mpumalanga.

Early in the morning of 27 March 2020, he received a telephone call from his mother. She informed him that his grandfather tragically passed away in a fire at his home earlier that morning. The applicant’s grandfather lived in Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape.

The applicant desperately wanted to travel to Hofmeyr to support his mother and to assist with his grandfather’s funeral. The funeral is to take place sometime next week in Hofmeyr.

To further support his case the applicant argued that hat there would be no risk of him contaminating anyone with the virus during his trip to Hofmeyr.

He added that he has not been in contact with any person from abroad or a person which has contracted the virus and that he does not display any of the known symptoms of the virus.

The applicant said he also intends to comply with all the remaining provisions of the regulations and that he will apply all the necessary precautions to prevent contamination and/or the spread of the virus.


In its judgement, the court noted that the circumstances of the application were ‘extremely upsetting’. “It shows in the crudest manner the crude effects of the final lockdown regulations upon a family,” it said.

While the court extended its sympathy to the man, it noted that the law prohibits that which the applicant wants to do – however urgent and deserving.

“The executive, under enabling legislation, invoked the provisions of the Act by declaring the state of disaster in order to curb the spread of Covid-19,” it said.

“The act and the final lockdown regulation applies to everyone within the borders of the Republic. I cannot accede to the relief the applicant seeks because in doing so, I will be authorising the applicant to break the law under judicial decree – that no court can do.

“In addition, no matter how careful and diligent the applicant will conduct himself, not only the applicant but many others may be exposed to unnecessary risk, even death, if I grant the applicant the relief he seeks.”

The application was subsequently dismissed. You can read the full ruling here.

Read: South Africa’s largest private healthcare provider warns that lockdown may be longer than 21-days

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New case focuses on a South African who wanted to travel between provinces during the coronavirus lockdown