Civil rights organisation AfriForum has, on Thursday, laid charges at the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights against the South African government over what they have termed ‘draconic’ regulations and the brutal enforcement of the lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its charge, AfriForum has requested the High Commissioner to launch an investigation into “the indefensible and irrational violation of civil freedom in South Africa.”

The charge follows the ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday that lockdown Level 3 and Level 4 regulations are unconstitutional and invalid.

The court, amongst other things, ruled that the Level 3 and 34 regulations are irrational and constitutionally unjustifiable, as well as reflecting a paternalistic approach by government.

The UN has also raised its concerns over the toxic lockdown culture and the aggressive enforcement thereof in South Africa.

AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action Ernst Roets says 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,” says Roets.

The charge refers to, among others, specific cases of brutality, irrational regulations such as those relating to enforced quarantine and the ban on 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,” says Roets.

In the video below, Minister Mthembu briefs the media after the Cabinet briefing: 

Reaction to Cabinet’s decision to appeal High Court regulations ruling with Legal Expert Ulrich Roux: