'We were treated like children': Group on why it challenged lockdown regulations

03 June 2020 - 08:06
Liberty Fighters Network says it challenged the constitutionality of lockdown regulations because of the disrespectful way government treated people.
Image: 123RF/SEBNEM RAGIBOGLU Liberty Fighters Network says it challenged the constitutionality of lockdown regulations because of the disrespectful way government treated people.

The man who challenged government’s lockdown regulations in court and came out victorious said on Wednesday any government bid to overturn the high court ruling would be disrespectful of the wishes of citizens.

“I doubt that the government will even think about an appeal. That would be a total slap in the faces of the people of SA,” said Liberty Fighters Network president Reyno de Beer.

He was speaking on SAfm on Wednesday morning.

“Remember that the African Union and the United Nations are now aware that our high court declared our lockdown regulations and all lockdown regulations as unconstitutional also so they will definitely be very cautious in making a very reckless decision to try and appeal this,” De Beer said.  

On Tuesday, after the high court ruling, De Beer said the reason Liberty Fighters Network challenged the constitutionality of lockdown regulations was because of the disrespectful way government treated its people.

“We were treated like children. The way government treated people was inhuman. It was the poorest of the poor who suffered,” De Beer said, commenting after the high court in Pretoria declared that the regulations promulgated by co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were “unconstitutional” and “invalid”.

De Beer explained what he felt went wrong.

“We are of the view that there should be a proper balance between regulating the disease and violating the rights of the people. I know that it’s important to protect the lives of people but it’s important to protect the other rights of the people not to starve, for instance,” he said.

De Beer added that the damage of the lockdown regulations would only be known later but maintained that it was there.

The lockdown regulations are set to remain in place for the next two weeks.

Judge Norman Davis on Tuesday suspended the declaration of invalidity for 14 days, giving the government time to “review, amend and republish regulations” that were consistent with the constitution.

De Beer said the Liberty Fighters Network was a not-for-gain voluntary association fighting for the right to equal justice for all, especially in relation to stopping evictions.

He said the focus of his organisation in launching the application was on the complaints it received from tenants. His organisation had been inundated with complaints from its members and the public in relation to their inability to pay rentals.

De Beer said people complained that landlords all over the country had started to resort to self-help remedies like illegal disconnections of electricity and water, locking out tenants and illegal evictions without court orders.

He said his organisation also represented a group of 90 employees of a hair salon group whose employer refused to pay their salaries on March 31.

De Beer said the employees were initially not able to refer their complaint to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration because of limited services offered during the initial stages of the lockdown.

These employees, most of them single mothers, are only expected to return to work when the lockdown is on level 1, he said.

He said LFN was not disputing that there was Covid-19. Thousands of people were also arrested because of these unconstitutional lockdown regulations.

De Beer also said the organisation was disgruntled at the inaction of political parties, which he said knew that the regulations violated people's rights and did nothing about it.

Asked whether the government may perhaps have had ulterior motives in implementing the stringent lockdown regulations, De Beer said: “I don’t want to go into conspiracy theories at all. We were only targeting the rights of the people and Bill of Rights and felt there was not enough care given for the livelihood of the people.”