Another court challenge against Dlamini Zuma’s lockdown
Johannesburg - Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is facing another legal battle as pressure group Liberty Fighters Network wants her jailed over the extension of the Covid-19 lockdown and the tightening of its restrictions since last month.
The group and its leader Reyno de Beer have also lodged an application of contempt of court against Dlamini Zuma and asked the North Gauteng High Court to sentence her to six months imprisonment over the extension of the State of National Disaster.
Last year, De Beer and his organisation successfully challenged some of the regulations during level 3 lockdown in June last year, but Dlamini Zuma is appealing the ruling with the Supreme Court of Appeal.
De Beer slammed the move by the government to move the country to adjusted level 3 lockdown despite the court ruling, whose appeal was still pending.
He said while the move to level 1 in September was in line with the June court order, the enforcement of additional restrictions from December 15 and the subsequent move to alert level 3 had constituted contempt of court on the part of Dlamini Zuma.
“This open contempt of court should not be tolerated. To prevent further bedlam, this court must intervene immediately to bring to an end such conduct by declaring that the respondent is indeed in contempt of court and impose a suitable penalty,” De Beer says in papers.
In his founding affidavit, De Beer has asked the court to declare the extension of the lockdown to January 15 is declared unconstitutional and invalid and that no further extension of the state of disaster be allowed.
In his application, De Beer is opposing the compulsory wearing of masks and the closure of beaches. He has also asked the court to declare that “the compulsory closure of churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith or religious-based institutions be declared unconstitutional and invalid”.
The matter is expected to be heard on January 12.
Responding to De Beer’s letter on behalf of Dlamini Zuma at the weekend, the Office of the State Attorney (OSA) rejected the accusations and further blasted the court threat as “plainly baseless, abusive and vexatious”.
“As we have previously indicated, should you bring an urgent application against the minister, this correspondence will be placed before the court and the minister will seek a personal costs order against you,” the OSA said.
The OSA also argued that the introduced adjusted alert level 3 was not the same as the lockdown level 3 which was declared unconstitutional last year.
“Chapter four of the regulations, which previously governed alert level 3, has now been substituted with an entirely new chapter four, to govern the adjusted level 3. The effect is that each of the six specific level 3 regulations that the high court declared unconstitutional and invalid have now either been repealed or repealed and replaced by new regulations, as of December 29,” the OSA said.
De Beer has also told the court that the LFN represented 144 pub and tavern businesses across the country that had lost more than R300m in sales since the lockdown began.
“In excess of 90% of these businesses state now, with the implementation of the latest liquor sale prohibition, that if the lockdown and effectively the liquor ban for onsite consumption are not lifted within the next few weeks, they will have to be forced to close their businesses,” De Beer says.
The OSA has defended the rationality of the lockdown.