Home South African Court bid by labour union Solidarity to end state of disaster

Court bid by labour union Solidarity to end state of disaster

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While the union served court papers on the government at the beginning of the year, the court has only now determined the date on which the matter will be heard.

SANDF members on patrol in Alexandra during the initial hard lockdown in 2020. Picture: Timothy Bernard /African News Agency (ANA)

LABOUR union Solidarity and the government will square off in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on April 20 over the lifting of the state of disaster.

According to Solidarity, there is no reason for the state of disaster to still remain in place. The conditions justifying a state of disaster have fallen away and for this reason it must come to an end, the applicants said.

While the union served court papers on the government at the beginning of the year, the court has only now determined the date on which the matter will be heard.

Head of legal matters at Solidarity, Anton van der Bijl, said the court date gave South Africans tangible hope that the end of the state of disaster was in sight.

“The state of disaster confers abnormal rights for abnormal circumstances on the government. A government may not have such powers for a day longer than what is necessary.

“We have to remember that the powers the government has at the moment are the very same powers used to decide what shoes may be worn and to decree that hot food may not be sold.

“We still have a command council that can issue orders. It was during this situation of abnormal powers that billions of rand of Covid-19 funds were looted.

“South Africa must return to a normal democracy with immediate effect,” Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity chief executive, said.

He added that Solidarity would have preferred to be in court earlier, but was at the mercy of court proceedings.

“State of disaster legislation does not provide for a disaster to remain in place because the government has yet to establish whether health legislation is sufficient. This could still take months.

“The government has known for two years that the state of disaster would be lifted sooner or later. It is unlawful of the government to keep the state of disaster in place because it does not have its act together. The state of disaster cannot be sustained because the government is a disaster,” Hermann said.

Solidarity has appealed to the government not to extend the state of disaster this month. The right thing for the government to do is to lift the state of disaster and not to wait for a court to compel it to do so, Hermann has said.

Solidarity, together with AfriForum, earlier decided to head to court after the state of disaster was extended by the government earlier this year.

Solidarity chairperson Flip Buys earlier said it seemed that the pandemic was now entering an endemic phase. He said it further appeared that increased group immunity against Covid-19 could now be detected, with the Omicron variant resulting in less serious illness and fewer deaths.

“The fact that the virus is now endemic means it won’t disappear, but we will have to learn to live with it. It also means that exceptional measures by the state, such as those that can be instituted under a state of disaster, are no longer necessary in an effort to control the virus,” Buys said.

Pretoria News

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