Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has filed a notice that he will abide by the court’s judgment in his responding affidavit to the high court challenge by the DA against some regulations governing the national lockdown.
On Friday, the DA filed an urgent application with the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, challenging the validity of some aspects of the lockdown, including the military-enforced night curfew, the ban on e-commerce and the restriction on exercise hours.
In court papers, the DA argues that transport restrictions, which limit access to public transport from 5am to 7pm are unnecessary, disproportionate and in violation of the Disaster Management Act.
Mbalula’s legal representatives have since told the court that he does not “intend to oppose the above-mentioned application and shall abide by the decision of the court”.
In her affidavit, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach challenged Mbalula to justify the reasons for the restrictions, adding that the regulation discriminated on the basis of race.
“The average white South African is more likely to own a private vehicle than the average black South African, meaning that the latter is more likely to be stranded, rendered immobile or arrested as a result of the transport restriction,” she said.
The DA also argue that the restriction will likely worsen the spread of Covid-19, resulting in unnecessary arrest.
The Level 4 regulations have been fiercely criticised for being arbitrary and defeating the purpose of the lockdown, which had been to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to help authorities prepare. In announcing last week that the country would step down from Level 4, President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that some of the government’s actions had been unclear, contradictory and poorly explained.
Previously no vehicles, whether public or private, were allowed on the roads outside of 5am to 8pm, but that there would be an hour’s grace period “to complete a journey” to 9pm.
Mbalula then changed the regulations to allow public transport, including minibus taxis, to only operate between 5am to 7pm, with no mention of a grace period.
Instead, “the driver must ensure that the drop off is completed by 19:00”.
The section governing the permitted times of private vehicles on the road was deleted by the same amendment, implying that private car owners can be on the road only until 8pm, when the national curfew starts.