By Martin Cole-
A group of “concerned citizens” has filed an urgent application at the high court in Cape Town challenging the constitutionality of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and the validity of the lockdown rules,The Eye Of Media.Com.
The group filed papers in the Western Cape High Court(pictured) on Wednesday, challenging the constitutionality of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) together with the latest lockdown regulations.
The group further challenged the recently published directions outlining the clothes and homeware that could be sold during Level 4 of the lockdown.
The group is made up of students at the University of Cape Town, a civil servant, a media intern and a data analyst. They are Mpiyakhe Dlamini, Duwayne Esau, Tami Jackson, Lindo Khuzwayo, Mikhail Manuel, Neo Mkwane, Scott Roberts and Riaan Salie.
Respondents in the matter include President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ministers of co-operative governance & traditional affairs, trade & industry, the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and the National Disaster Management Centre.
“Each of us have had our freedom curtailed by the regulations. We no longer enjoy the freedom to move around as we please, to eat and drink what we want, to work and study as usual and to visit our friends and families,” the group said in a statement.
“We the applicants, are ordinary citizens who have done our best to continue living, studying, working and functioning during the lockdown and the subsequent level 4 restrictions,” said Duwayne Esau, a student at the University of Cape Town, in an affidavit.
“However, the president’s address of 13 May 2020 has made it clear that the level 4 restrictions which are barely different from the initial lockdown in the extent of their limitations, will continue in full force in significant parts of the country [including the Western Cape which has the highest number of reported Covid-19 related deaths in a province].”
The group argues that the regulations have affected human dignity.
“One of us was unable to attend the funeral of his grandmother in another province. A number of us have serious concerns about the financial security of our families as firms go under and millions lose their jobs as a direct result of the regulations.
“The regulations have allowed the state to insert itself into the most private, sacred parts of our lives. No ordinary person in our country can escape the restrictions,” the statement read.
In its court papers, the group says the rules that relate to time limits and forms must be dispensed with.
The group also want the court to declare the NCCC inconsistent with the constitution and the Disaster Management Act.
“It is clear from statements made by the president that a body called the NCCC has taken critical decisions in respect of our country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which have far-reaching consequences for the freedom and dignity of South Africans. The NCCC has, for example, previously decided what ‘level’ of lockdown we are in, and whether or not the lockdown should be extended,” the group said.
Extra Legal Challenge
The legal challenge adds to an existing legal challenge launched by South African Opposition parties last week against the government.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen is confident his party will succeed in overturning every lockdown regulation after an encouraging outcome in a recent case against the way South African police have been implementing the lockdown.
Members of his party brand the lockdown regulations damaging and illegal.The DA insists the ConCourt will conclude that Parliament must play a central role in decisions around lockdown regulations after a recent judgement highlighted the importance of obeying the rule of law.
Wide ranging restrictions imposed in South Africa includes a ban on the sale of several products such as cigarettes and alcohol, a military-enforced nighttime curfew, and outdoor exercising restricted to three hours a day on pavements only.
Critics of the move say the ban on cigarette sales is “feeding an illicit market that will be increasingly difficult to eradicate” once the lockdown is over.
The DA has launched two legal challenges. The first is against the targeting restrictions of movement and trade, and the second the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act itself.
A successful challenge could nullify all decisions of the National Coronavirus Command Council, which is directing the government’s response to the health crisis.