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Govt in a peculiar position over ruling on lockdown regulations - expert

The Pretoria High Court declared the coronavirus lockdown regulations under level 4 and 3 as unconstitutional and invalid.

From L to R: Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a briefing on 16 April 2020. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - A legal expert said that should government fail to take up several legal options following the Pretoria High Court judgment that declared lockdown regulations under level 4 and 3 as unconstitutional and invalid, this would give grounds to those negatively affected by the laws to sue the state.

The ruling, which was delivered on Tuesday, gives government two weeks, with the room for an extension, to review, amend and republish the regulations.

They were enforced in line with the Disaster Management Act to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Although legal minds in the country have taken to social media platforms to poke holes in Judge Norman Davis’ judgment, expert Ulrich Roux explained that the judge focused predominantly on the constitutionality of the regulations.

Davis found that while the national lockdown was rational, the regulations infringed on the constitutional rights of South Africans.

While Cabinet said that it was still studying the judgment, Roux said that they found themselves in a peculiar situation.

"If they do not amend the regulations within the 14 days, and if they do not successfully lodge an application for leave to appeal or obtain an extension on the 14-day period, that means that those regulations will lapse automatically, so the national state of disaster will no longer be governed by the Disaster Management Act, which is quite a technical situation."

The court ruled that level 3 lockdown remained in force until the new regulations were published.

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