The South African government announced on Thursday that it has decided to appeal a court ruling which declares some of its COVID-19 lockdown regulations invalid and unconstitutional.
The government will ask that its appeal be heard on an urgent basis so that it can obtain certainty on the regulations, spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement after a virtual cabinet meeting in Pretoria.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be joined in this appeal by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, according to Williams.
The cabinet wishes to assure the nation that all interventions introduced since the declaration of a state of national disaster in March 2020 by Ramaphosa have been directed primarily at saving lives, Williams said.
In implementing these interventions, the government has consistently consulted all sectors of society, as the fight against COVID-19 is a national effort that requires unity in action between the government and all South Africans, said Williams.
On Tuesday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled against the COVID-19 lockdown regulations in the country.
“Some of the regulations promulgated by the government simply did not meet the rationality test in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the court said in its ruling.
The court suspended the declaration of invalidity for a period of 14 days, meaning that the current Alert Level Three regulations remain in operation for now so as to allow Dlamini-Zuma, in consultation with relevant ministers, 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.”
Williams said that after obtaining legal advice and listening to numerous comments made by members of the legal fraternity in reaction to the judgement, “we are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion on the matter.”
“While government appeals the court judgment, current regulations remain in force and we appeal and urge all our people to observe all the health protocols that have been put in place including washing of hands, social distancing, wearing of masks in public as well as screening and referral for testing where necessary,” Williams said.
The law allows for the National State of Disaster to last for 90 days which necessitates the extension, Williams said.