Judgment reserved in court challenge over 'racist' Covid-19 fund access

28 April 2020 - 16:16 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel says the tourism department’s racial requirements for Covid-19 aid amounts to unfair discrimination and is unconstitutional.
AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel says the tourism department’s racial requirements for Covid-19 aid amounts to unfair discrimination and is unconstitutional.
Image: Deaan Vivier/Gallo Images

The Pretoria high court has reserved judgment in AfriForum's legal challenge to the race criteria used to determine which businesses score state-sponsored Covid-19 relief bailouts.

According to AfriForum, presiding judge Jody Kollapen will hand down judgement in the matter before the end of the week.

AfriForum filed an application for review against the department of tourism’s use of race as a benchmark for the awarding of Covid-19 relief to tourism enterprises.

“AfriForum’s legal team today [Tuesday], among others, argued during the hearing that the expressed aim of the department’s fund is to offer assistance to tourism enterprises that are being adversely affected by Covid-19.

“Seeing as everyone, notwithstanding their race, is being adversely affected by Covid-19, the department cannot use Section 9(2) of the constitution, which justifies correction of discrimination from the past, as justification for discriminating assistance against the consequences of Covid-19,” said Afriforum.

The organisations's chief executive, Kallie Kriel, said he believed the organisation - and Solidarity, which brought a similar application - made a strong case.

“AfriForum, however, feels so strongly about this matter that, should it be necessary, we are prepared to fight to the end in the highest court,” said Kriel, making reference to the matter being taken, ultimately, to the Constitutional Court.

He said it was unethical that the government was charging minorities tax and discriminating  against them at the same time.

It is also shocking that the government, even at a time when everyone in the country is supposed to stand together against the mutual enemy, Covid-19, has decided to use the provision of relief to struggling enterprises to further its racial agenda,” said Kriel.

Afriforum, Kriel said, approached the court after it did not receive a response to the letter it had written to the minister, in which it placed the terms regarding BEE and other requirements.


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