Two of South Africa’s largest civil rights organisations have applied for urgent relief in the North Gauteng High Court to prevent the government from enforcing its ‘controversial’ COVID-19 regulations.
AfriForum accused the government of wanting to permanently enforce lockdown regulations in the new health care guidelines.
The government extended the temporary Covid-19 rules for 30 days after the end of the national disaster to pave the way for a new COVID-19 enforcement mechanism.
Following that, the Ministry of Health announced new temporary steps to guarantee that there are no legal loopholes in the fight against COVID-19.
Department of Health proclaimed that regulations regarding notifiable diseases have now been amended in terms of the National Health Act 61 of 2003 and the International Health Regulations Act 28 of 1974.
AfriForum said this means that the government can permanently impose the wearing of masks and restrictions on gatherings.
The lobby groups further claimed regulations also give Health Minister, Joe Phaahla the sole authority to determine how long such regulations should be implemented and when they can be lifted.
The organisations, AfriForum and the DearSA argued that the regulations were unconstitutional and should be suspended until a court ruling.
DearSA spokesperson, Tim Flack said his organisation has written to the Department of Health Director-General informing him that the public participation process regarding proposed health laws changes was ‘fraudulent’ and uncommon after ‘many’ participants received notifications their emails were deleted.
AfriForum and DearSA questioned the validity of the public participation process followed by the Department of Health prior to the implementation of these regulations.
AfriForum said it is worrying the regulations published in the Government Gazette are not the same printed for public comment.
“Citizens are not the only ones on the state chessboard to be pushed if government-hungry officials feel that way. AfriForum, if necessary, will fight these laws in the high courts to ensure citizens’ rights are fully restored,” said AfriForum.
In a statement, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said his party would join DearSA and Afriforum this week to take legal action against Health Minister.
“We can officially announce that we will be seeking leave to join the legal action instituted against the Minister of Health this week, by DearSA and Afriforum,” said Mashaba.
“The rules in this gazette unconstitutional, unlawful and procedurally irrational,” said Mashaba.
He said the legal action would be the focus of ActionSA’s legal application that will be argued by the party’s Head of Strategic Litigation and member of Senate, Advocate Gill Benson.
Mashaba argues that the regulations empower the Minister to create and amend laws at his discretion without providing any justification for the misuse of such power.
He said ActionSA stands with the freedom-loving South Africans who are working hard to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19.