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Bad hair day for hairdressers as judge takes shears to lockdown challenge

28 May 2020 - 19:00 By Aron Hyman
Carlo Viljoen's attempt to reopen the hairdressing sector was defeated in the Cape Town high court on Thursday.
Carlo Viljoen's attempt to reopen the hairdressing sector was defeated in the Cape Town high court on Thursday.
Image: Aron Hyman

An advocate who went to court to highlight the plight of hairdressers should have combed through the roots of lockdown regulations more thoroughly, a judge said on Thursday.

Cape Town high court judge Lee Bozalek said Carlo Viljoen aimed his legal hairdryer at health minister Zweli Mkhize, when in fact the custodian of lockdown regulations is cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

"The [health] minister simply does not have the power or authority to compel the minister of cooperative governance to change the regulations pertaining to the industry," said Bozalek, dismissing Viljoen's application.

This meant the application was fatally flawed. But Bozalek said it had raised questions about the wholesale suspension of sectors such as hairdressing.

The judge suggested mediation between the sector and the government so that salons could open under certain conditions.

Viljoen said he decided to fight for hairdressers after his wife decided to cut her own hair, followed by his. At that point he realised that hairdressers were struggling to put food on the table.

Although he did not have support from the Employers Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty (EOHCB), who it appeared from court arguments would rather negotiate with the government about a way to restart operations, Viljoen told Bozalek on Wednesday he had received supportive e-mails from hundreds of hairdressers.

He also cited over 400 messages sent to an industry support group from hairdressers, many of them single mothers, pleading for food relief.

Mkhize's advocate Adiel Nacerodien argued that Viljoen may not have been motivated entirely by philanthropy because he had solicited donations for a charity he was part of. But Viljoen said the R10,000 received was in the charity's bank account and he had not touched a cent.