Court turns down Mmusi Maimane's bid for schools to remain closed
Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has turned down an application by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his movement One South Africa for schools to remain closed for now.
The full bench further also dismissed his application to urgently overturn the decision by government to move from level 5 to level 3 of the lockdown regulations.
The court, led by Judge President Dunsten Mlambo, held that it cannot be said that the government’s decision to move from level 4 to level 3 was unreasonable or an irrational choice.
This, particularly given the range of protective measures that remain in place. Besides, the court said, there was always an option for government to move to a higher alert level where this may be indicated.
They said the easing from level 4 to level 3 was necessary to safeguard against a potential economic catastrophe. Government was guided by expert advice.
To label this move as putting profit before lives, as argued by Maimane and his organisation, was to ignore the complexities of the issues involved, the court said.
Regarding the issue of sending children back to school at this stage, Maimane’s legal team earlier argued that “government is releasing them into a raging fire”.
But the court said it was not a matter of choosing between education and life. The decision to reopen the schools were preceded by a number of measures that were geared towards protecting the lives and safety of the pupils and the broader school community.
They said there is no evidence that government took a callous approach and disregarded the safety of the children and educators.
Maimane and his movement earlier argued against the reopening of the schools at this stage.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, acting for the applicants, argued the government was simply not ready to ease the regulations in light of the soaring number of Covid-19 infections.
He said that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has admitted that, according to the World Health Organization, South Africa did not qualify to move to level 3.