South African court rules lockdown restrictions ‘irrational and invalid’


A South African high court declared some of the government’s coronavirus lockdown regulations “unconstitutional and invalid” and gave authorities in Pretoria 14 days to overhaul the regulations.

South Africa introduced in March, one of the world’s most restrictive COVID-19 lockdowns – including a ban on alcohol and cigarette sales – but has gradually eased restrictions.

The Liberty Fighters Network advocacy group and the Hola Bona Renaissance Foundation filed a lawsuit against the regulations in May, arguing they were unlawful as they violated South Africa’s Bill of Rights.

The high court in the capital, Pretoria, ruled that the regulations were not connected to slowing the rate of infection or limiting its spread.

“The regulations… in a substantial number of instances are not rationally connected to the objectives of slowing the rate of infection or limiting the spread thereof,” the written judgement read.

The judge picked out rules around funerals, informal workers and amount of exercise as “irrational”.

Judge Norman Davis argued it was wrong to allow people to travel to attend funerals but not to earn their livelihoods by street trading, as many South Africans do.

The government said it will review the regulations but in the meantime the current lockdown regulations will apply.

Police have opened almost 230,000 cases for violating lockdown regulations since the beginning of lockdown on 26 March, according to the Police Minister BhekiCele.

Contraventions have included breaches of the ban on alcohol and cigarette trade, failure to stay at home and gathering illegally.

On Wednesday Health Minister ZweliMkhize warned on state TV that coronavirus was a bigger threat now than at the start of the lockdown, and he called on people to remain vigilant as cases continue to rise.

South Africa has eased its lockdown restrictions this week and alcohol sales resumed following a two-month ban, but only for home consumption and all sales of cigarettes remain outlawed.

Gatherings, except for work, religious ceremonies and funerals, are still banned.

Travel between provinces is also prohibited, and international flights are cancelled except for those repatriating citizens.

The country has 35,812 confirmed cases and 755 deaths. (Source: BBC)