'Lockdown will cost more lives than it can save - end it': DA's Steenhuisen

08 May 2020 - 15:12 By Aphiwe Deklerk
DA leader John Steenhuisen said South Africa had 'almost everything to lose by keeping people at home and keeping businesses shut any longer'. File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said South Africa had 'almost everything to lose by keeping people at home and keeping businesses shut any longer'. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Friday called for an end to the national lockdown.

Steenhuisen said he had withdrawn his support of the lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March, and criticised the regulations.

“The real tragedy playing out here is no longer the coronavirus, but the lockdown itself because this lockdown is going to cost many more lives than it can possibly save,” he said.

“This is a hard truth to speak and it is even harder to hear. But it must be spoken. We have to end the lockdown crisis, and we have to do it now. There is very little for us to gain and almost everything to lose by keeping people at home and keeping businesses shut any longer,” said Steenhuisen.

He said the initial reason to enter lockdown was to buy time, but now the country risked seeing a number of people breaking the regulations.

Steenhuisen said rules under level four of the lockdown were petty, irrational and authoritarian.

“There is no rational argument for the continued ban on cigarettes, or alcohol for that matter. We have seen announcements from ministers on keeping sectors of the economy shut that have nothing to do with halting the spread of the virus.

“There are petty, irrational announcements, like the ban on all e-commerce. We have seen the outrageous announcements from the small business development minister and the tourism minister that they intend to exclude some South Africans on the basis of their race and other arbitrary criteria,” he said.

He said the party had instructed lawyers to take the matter to the high court because it was unconscionable that the government would play identity politics in a time of crisis.

“Mr President, by creating this lockdown crisis, you have broken your sacred compact with the people of South Africa. You have weaponised our trust in you and turned it against us.

“Instead of trusting us back, you have devastated lives and livelihoods through brutality and coercion,” he said.

“And you have turned the free citizens of the Republic of South Africa into subjects of an authoritarian government. We are no longer dealing with a Covid-19 crisis. We are dealing with a lockdown crisis,” said Steenhuisen.


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