Meet the man who took on the state over Covid-19 regulations and won
It was the proverbial David taking on Goliath when Reyno de Beer, 43, of Derdepoort in Pretoria, faced counsel acting for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
De Beer did not hesitate to make his voice heard; he conducted his own case before Judge Norman Davis.
He was the first applicant in the application to have the Covid-19 regulations declared unconstitutional. And he is immensely proud, but humble, that he won his case.
Judge Davis declared certain lockdown regulations irrational and unconstitutional and government was given 14 days in which to come up with new, amended regulations.
De Beer faced the government, together with his organisation Liberty Fighters Network, a voluntary organisation which fought for the rights to equal justice for all. The organisation, which was cited as the second applicant, had its case argued by lawyer Zehir Omar.
Asked why he decided to take the issues which were on everyone’s minds, but which no one dared to legally challenge, De Beer said: “We were treated like children. My mother taught me since I was small to be hygienic and to wash my hands. It is up to us to fight the spread of this virus, not up to the government to tell us what to do.”
De Beer said he and his organisation had been fighting for years for the human rights of people, especially those who are mistreated at the hands of their landlords and thrown out on the streets, for no fault of theirs.
“We decided to take on this fight after thousands of tenants were embroiled in disputes with their landlords, especially during the difficult economic times brought by the lockdown regulations.
“We turned to the government for help and even to the police, but there was no help. We decided enough is enough and we will fight these regulations in court.”
De Beer said he was no stranger in facing judges as he had over the years as a human rights activist brought cases to court, which he argued himself; it was therefore not a daunting task to face the mighty government.
“I am a bit overwhelmed at what we achieved, but I believed in our case... The AU and the UN are now aware that the lockdown regulations were declared unconstitutional due to the infringement of our human rights.”
De Beer said the effort of going to court and win a victory for him and his fellow South Africans was worth every moment as history was made.
Government said on Thursday that they will appeal the judgment.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the cabinet had decided to appeal the judgment following a virtual cabinet meeting on Thursday morning.
Mthembu said the government believes the decisions taken and the regulations declared under the National Disaster Act were lawful and rational to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and to save lives.
“We are very confident that what we did, the articulation of levels was crafted to save lives,” Mthembu said.
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