Government to appeal High Court ruling on “irrational” regulations

The South African government will appeal the ruling by the Gauteng High Court which declared South Africa’s level 3 and level 4 lockdown regulations irrational and unconstitutional.

Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that Cabinet had decided to appeal the ruling made by Judge Norman Davis on 2 June 2020.

Mthembu also announced that the government would extend the National State of Disaster until 15 July.

“After obtaining legal advice and listening to numerous comments made by members of the legal fraternity in reaction to this judgement, we are of the view that another court might come to another conclusion on the matter,” Mthembu said.

“Cabinet has therefore decided to appeal the North Gauteng High Court decision.”

The government said it will ask that its appeal is heard on an urgent basis so that the country can gain certainty on the regulations.

“The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma will be joined in this appeal by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize,” Mthembu said.

“Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that all interventions introduced since the declaration of a State of National Disaster in March 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa have been directed primarily at saving lives.”

High Court judgement

This follows after the Gauteng High Court ruled that South Africa’s level 4 and level 3 lockdown regulations were unconstitutional and invalid on 2 June 2020.

The court directed the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), in consultation with other ministers, to amend, review, and republish the regulations.

The ruling concerned an application that was brought against the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs by the Liberty Fighters Network, which contested the validity of the declaration of the National State of Disaster and the regulations related to it.

Judge Norman Davis criticised the “sheer irrationality” of the regulations and found that there were many instances of rules which were not rationally connected to the objectives of slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.

“I am certain, from what I have seen in the papers filed in this matter and from a mere reading of the regulations, even including the alert level 3 regulations, that there are many more instances of sheer irrationality included therein,” the judge said.

“I find that, in an overwhelming number of instances the Minister has not demonstrated that the limitation of the Constitutional rights already mentioned has been justified in the context of section 36 of the Constitution.”

The High Court added that the regulations related to the sale of tobacco products were excluded from this ruling, pending the finalisation of a separate court case on the subject.

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Government to appeal High Court ruling on “irrational” regulations