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#StopTheMadness: AfriForum lays charges against SA government at UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Jun 4, 2020

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today laid charges at the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights against the South African government over the draconic regulations and the brutal enforcement of the lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In its charge, AfriForum requests the High Commissioner to launch an investigation into the indefensible and irrational violation of civil freedoms in South Africa. The charge follows the ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 2 June 2020 that the lockdown level 3 and level 4 regulations are unconstitutional and invalid. The court amongst other things ruled that the level 4 and 3 regulations are irrational and constitutionally unjustifiable, as well as reflecting a paternalistic approach by government. The UN also raised its concerns over the toxic lockdown culture and the aggressive enforcement thereof in South Africa.

The charge also forms part of AfriForum’s #TheWorldMustKnow campaign, which is aimed at creating international awareness of the violation of civil rights in South Africa and raising support for greater civil freedom. A media statement – together with the charge – was also released internationally.

According to Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action, the charge relates to the brutality with which the SAPS and SANDF treat citizens, the irrational regulations that violate the public’s most basic freedoms, as well as the fact that the government uses the pandemic as an opportunity to promote a particular race ideology. “The lockdown cannot be justified by either the South African Constitution or the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Roets argues.

The charge refers among others to specific cases of brutality, irrational regulations such as those relating to enforced quarantine and the ban of tobacco products, as well as the government’s plans of enforced quarantine for everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 – regardless of whether people can self-isolate or that quarantine facilities do not meet the necessary standards. The charge also refers to the statement by Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Tourism, that it is “perfectly rational” to use race as a prerequisite to help businesses who suffer losses due to the lockdown; as well as that the court has already declined an application to have this prerequisite declared unconstitutional and that the Constitutional Court has indicated that it would not be in the interest of justice to appeal the case.

“The fact that more than 230 000 criminal cases have been opened since the start of the lockdown against people who allegedly violated the regulations is proof of the draconic nature of the lockdown,” Roets concludes.

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