Government to appeal high court ruling that lockdown rules are 'invalid'

04 June 2020 - 16:43 By S'thembile Cele
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday that the government will appeal a recent high court decision declaring the lockdown regulations invalid. File photo.
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday that the government will appeal a recent high court decision declaring the lockdown regulations invalid. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

A special sitting of the cabinet resolved on Thursday to appeal this week’s North Gauteng High Court judgment which found the country's level 4 and 3 lockdown regulations to be “unconstitutional and invalid”.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said during a post-cabinet briefing that another court may come to a different decision.

He said the government stood by the implementation of its disaster regulations and was confident of succeeding in an appeal.

The sitting of cabinet was convened to primarily discuss the ruling by judge Norman Davis on Tuesday. Davis ruled that lockdown levels 4 and 3 were unconstitutional and invalid, but suspended his declaration of invalidity for 14 days to allow the government enough time to respond.

Mthembu said the cabinet had resolved to appeal the matter urgently and was willing to take their defence of the regulations to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“After obtaining legal advice and listening to numerous comments made by members of the legal fraternity in reaction to the judgment, we are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion on the matter,” said Mthembu.

“Government will ask that its appeal be heard on an urgent basis so that it can obtain certainty on the regulations. The minister of co-operative governance & traditional affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will be joined in this appeal by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize.”

The cabinet also approved the extension of the national state of disaster by another month, meaning it will now end on July  15. The law makes provision for the declaration to last for 90 days and thereafter it can be extended only month by month.

Mthembu said the government would first take its appeal to the North Gauteng High Court.

He was emphatic that the government’s decisions during the nationwide lockdown were all justifiable.

“In our view, those regulations were properly enacted and they serve a particular purpose. So we don’t believe that anybody or any other court will come to the same conclusion as the North Gauteng High Court,” he said. “That is why we will be starting with the same court, and of course then go to the Supreme Court of Appeal because we believe that other courts will come to a different decision and conclusion on the invalidity of the regulations that kicked in at levels 4 and 3.

“We believe that our decision-making methodology was very open and we did not do anything that will justify what the court arrived at.

“We are very confident that what we did — the articulation of levels, starting with level 5 — were crafted to save lives. That is what we are about.”

The cabinet has also expressed concern over the “intensity and increase” of infections in the Western Cape.

Ramaphosa will on Friday meet the province's premier Alan Winde and other officials to assess their management of the crisis.


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