Lockdown: UN raises concerns over use of excessive force in SA, other countries

A director of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs referred to SA’s heavy handed, and highly militarised enforcement of the stay-at home directive.

FILE: SAPS members and SANDF soldiers deploy in the Mitchells Plain area in Cape Town to enforce the Disaster Management Act and to ensure the adherence of the lockdown regulations on 20 April 2020. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter

PRETORIA - South Africa is listed by United Nations (UN) officials expressing concern about disturbing details of countries using excessive force to police the COVID-19 lockdown.

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A director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) referred to South Africa’s heavy-handed and highly militarised enforcement of the stay-at-home directive. The World Health Organisation (WHO), though, has praised South Africa's swift response to curbing the spread of the virus.

Briefing journalists, Ohcha’s director of field operations Georgette Gagnon said from South Africa to the Philippines, from Hungary to Jordan - abuses in enforcing the lockdown appeared to transgress basic key freedoms.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that emergency powers should not be used as a weapon to quash dissent, control the population, or perpetuate time in power.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged governments to realise the coronavirus pandemic is the enemy, not the people.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.