Court dismisses application to relax lockdown rules for man who wanted to travel to grandfather's funeral

28 March 2020 - 13:17 By JEFF WICKS
Karel van Heerden, of Mbombela, received a message from his mother on Friday morning, conveying the news that his grandfather had died in a fire in Hofmeyr, a town in the Eastern Cape.
Karel van Heerden, of Mbombela, received a message from his mother on Friday morning, conveying the news that his grandfather had died in a fire in Hofmeyr, a town in the Eastern Cape.
Image: 123RF/Stockstudio44

An urgent application by a Mpumalanga man asking the high court to relax coronavirus lockdown legislation so he could attend his grandfather’s funeral has been dismissed.

Karel van Heerden had brought the challenge on Friday, the first day of the national lockdown which saw police and SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel descend on cities and towns across the country.

The lockdown is government's call to prohibit movement of the populace as the infection rate of the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold, which rose to 1,170 on Friday night.

Van Heerden, of Mbombela, received a message from his mother on Friday morning, conveying the news that his grandfather had died in a fire in Hofmeyr, a town in the Eastern Cape.

Van Heerden, according to court papers, desperately wanted to attend the funeral so he could support his mother. He asked the court to rule that he be temporarily exempt from lockdown travel regulations. In his affidavit, Van Heerden said he would pose no risk of contaminating anyone as he has not travelled, has had no contact with anyone from abroad and displays no symptoms.

In delivering his ruling, Acting Judge Henk Roelofse said that the coronavirus had “taken a terrible grip of the world – it is described as an invisible enemy”.

“I have extreme sympathy but I must uphold the law ... Unfortunately, presently, the law prohibits that which the applicant wants to do, however urgent and deserving,” he said.

“I cannot accede to the relief sought because in doing so, I will be authorising the applicant to break the law under judicial decree — that no court can do.”

“In addition, no matter how careful and diligent the applicant will conduct himself, not only the applicant but many others may be exposed to unnecessary risk, even death if I grant the applicant the relief he seeks,” Roelofse added.


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