Court rejects Liberty Fighters Network’s request to declare the state of disaster invalid

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By Zelda Venter Feb 19, 2021

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Pretoria – The High Court in Gauteng, Pretoria, has dismissed Reyno de Beer and his group Liberty Fighters Network to declare the national state of disaster invalid.

In delivering his judgment on Friday, Judge Norman Davis also failed to grant De Beer’s request for the court to hold Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in contempt of court by failing to comply. to some of the orders Davis made in June last year, when De Beer first went to court to oppose lockdown regulations, promulgated by the government in an attempt to curb Covid-19.

While Davis came out in favor of De Beer in June, declaring some regulations irrational and invalid, the judge has now said a lot has changed since then.

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“The world and its response to the Covid-19 pandemic have changed from time to time. The factual, regulatory and legal landscapes have also undergone unprecedented changes, ”he said.

The judge added that when the first app launched in May, South Africa had 12,704 cases of coronavirus and 219 reported deaths.

When the current app was launched in January, the number of reported cases in South Africa had increased to 1,127,579 cases and 30,976 deaths had been reported.

This, while the second wave was still in progress.

“The deaths resulting from the pandemic, whatever opinion one side may have, are tragic and evoke a deep sense of compassion.”

“These deaths have crept into all levels of society and all walks of life. As impartial as the judiciary must interpret and apply the law, with equal measure, its members are compassionate in the face of all the adversities faced by subjects of the law, whether these be the effects of the pandemic or the effects of measures for slow it down, ”the judge said.

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Regarding some of De Beer’s arguments, such as that the ban on religious gatherings should be overturned, Judge Davis said it was moot as it was overtaken by the latest adjustment to the regulations of level 3.

Responding to De Beer’s arguments that the court should overturn the compulsory wearing of masks, the judge said: “I find no reason to declare the compulsory wearing of masks unconstitutional or invalid.”

The judge, however, frowned at the government’s beach closures. He said that while there can be no argument against the rationality of closing beaches or congested beach areas, especially at the height of the holiday season during the December holidays and for those times only, the closing long stretches of empty beaches didn’t make sense.

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“The absurdity or arbitrariness of these blanket closures has been illustrated by the extreme measures taken to enforce the law.

“The South African National Defense Force has been deployed in some areas, even arriving on virtually deserted beaches with machine guns and rocket launchers.

“Stun grenades have been used to disperse lone surfers or to aid in their arrest.”

“Anyway, the issue of the beach ban” has since been lifted and therefore becomes moot, “he said.

News from Pretoria