A file picture of Reyno De Beer in court. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)
A file picture of Reyno De Beer in court. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Court turns down Liberty Fighters Network’s application to have State of Disaster declared invalid

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

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Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, has turned down Reyno de Beer and his group Liberty Fighters Network’s application to have the National State of Disaster declared invalid.

In handing down his judgment on Friday, Judge Norman Davis also did not entertain De Beer’s application for the court to hold Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in contempt of court by allegedly not adhering to some of the orders made by Davis in June last year, when De Beer turned to the court for the first time to object about the lockdown regulations, promulgated by government in a bid to curb Covid-19.

While Davis found in favour of De Beer in June by declaring some of the regulations as irrational and invalid, the judge now said a lot has changed since.

“The world and its response to the Covid-19 pandemic has mutated from time to time. The factual, regulatory and legal landscapes have also undergone unprecedented changes,” he said.

The judge added that at the time of the launch of the first application in May, South Africa had 12 704 coronavirus cases and 219 reported deaths.

At the time of the launch of the current application in January, , the number of reported cases in South Africa has risen to 1 127 579 cases and 30 976 deaths have been reported.

This, while the second wave was still on its way.

“The deaths resulting from the pandemic, irrespective of any view any of the parties may hold, are tragic and evoke a deep sense of compassion.”

“These deaths have insinuated themselves into every level of society and every walk of life. As dispassionate as the judiciary must interpret and apply the law, with equal measure its members are compassionate regarding every adversity faced by subjects of the law, be it the effects of the pandemic or the effects of measures to curb it,” the judge said.

Regarding some of the arguments by De Beer, such as that the ban on religious gatherings should be be overturned, Judge Davis said it is moot, as it was overtaken by the latest adjustment of the level 3 regulations.

In responding to De Beer’s arguments that the court should overturn the compulsory wearing of masks, the judge said: “ I find no basis to declare the compulsory wearing of masks unconstitutional or invalid.”

The judge, however, did frown upon government’s closure of beaches. He said while there can be little argument against the rationality of the closure of congested beaches or beach areas, particularly at the height of the festive season over the December holidays and for those periods only, the closure of long empty stretches of beaches did not make sense.

“The absurdity or arbitrariness of such blanket closures were illustrated by the extreme measures taken in enforcing compliance.

“The South African National Defence Force was deployed in some areas, even arriving on virtually deserted beaches with machine guns and rocket launchers.

“Stun-grenades were utilised in dispersing solitary surfers or in assisting in their arrest.”

“Be that as it may, the beach ban issue” has since been lifted and thus becomes moot,” he said.

Pretoria News

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