‘We cannot allow this’: DA goes to court over Garden Route beach ban

17 December 2020 - 14:32
Pat Vandiar, 67, praying at dawn on an empty North Beach in Durban.
AT PEACE Pat Vandiar, 67, praying at dawn on an empty North Beach in Durban.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The DA on Thursday launched its legal challenge to lockdown regulations closing Garden Route beaches over the festive season, arguing it was an “irrational and arbitrary” move to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The party lodged papers in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, saying that President Cyril Ramaphosa and co-operative affairs & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had failed to provide reasons to justify the decision.

Garden Route and Eastern Cape beaches are closed from December 16 to January 3 in areas regarded as coronavirus hotspots. The government also announced that beaches would be closed on peak days in KwaZulu-Natal.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement: “The fact that national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches only demonstrates that there were none to begin with.

“It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured,” he charged.

Steenhuisen said the closure of beaches was not “in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts and is impossible to enforce”.

“This regulation is also proving be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse,” he said.

“In the delicate fight to save both lives and livelihoods, any job-killing Covid-19 regulation which has no rational basis in medical and scientific practice cannot be imposed.

“Doing so will only create a far more dangerous pandemic of widespread poverty and job losses, which we are already witnessing.”

Steenhuisen said the party expected the matter to be heard as soon as December 21.

An affidavit submitted by Steenhuisen argued that the blanket ban on the Garden Route violated the right to freedom of movement entrenched in the constitution.

The decision appeared to have been made without providing affected stakeholders, especially those in the tourism industry, adequate notice or an opportunity to say on the restrictions. The blanket closure was an “irrational and arbitrary measure to address the spread and transmission of the virus”, Steenhuisen argued.

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