The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria declaring lockdown levels 4 and 3 unconstitutional and invalid vindicates the Bill of Rights and Constitution, the applicants’ attorney said on Monday.
Advocate Zehir Omar – who represented the Liberty Fighters Network which identifies itself as a renegade social justice organisation in its legal challenge – said the win defended citizens’ statutory rights.
“What [the] Cabinet and what the president did throughout this lockdown period in making irrational regulations in closing barbershops, allowing people on the promenade but not allowing them on the beach, is irrational,” he said.
“If South Africans allow the fundamental rights in our Constitution to be violated without taking measures to protect it, we will very quickly descend into a dictatorship or a police state.”
On Tuesday, Judge Norman Davis ruled Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had to formulate changes to the regulations within 14 days.
The judgment said the government had not produced any bona fide evidence that its means of enforcing the lockdown were “justifiable” and they could therefore be deemed arbitrary and unlawful.
In his judgment, Davis slammed a number of the regulations, including those surrounding funerals and exercise times, saying besides the specific ones cited, “there are many more instances of sheer irrationality included therein”.
He found while the minister’s declaration of a national state of disaster was rational, the regulations promulgated for levels 4 and 3 in a substantial number of instances were “not rationally connected to the objectives of slowing the rate of infection or limiting the spread thereof”.
The government, in a statement following the judgment, said the court had suspended the declaration of the invalidity for 14 days, meaning current level 3 regulations remained in operation for now.
Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said the court had directed Dlamini-Zuma to review, amend and republish the regulations with “due consideration to the limitation each regulation has on the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights”.
The Cabinet would comment further once the judgment has been fully studied.