They would continue to monitor the conduct of law enforcement officers
NGO Fair and Equitable Society of SA has voluntarily withdrawn legal action to block the deployment of the police and army to ensure that South African communities comply with the 21 nationwide lockdown regulations.
In their explanation, the NGO said their withdrawal was based on the strength of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s replying affidavit to their application.
The application to withdraw the deployment of the army and police was made in the Pretoria High Court in Pretoria last week, on an urgent basis. President Ramaphosa made the decision on March 24 to deploy the army to assist the police to ensure compliance with the lockdown regulation gazetted by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The NGO, however, sought a declaration that the Police Minister Bheki Cele and Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula were liable for alleged brutality meted out by the police and the army.
In their application dated April 2, Director of legal at the Fair and Equitable Society Samantha Sarjoo said: “videos showing the use of excessive force, violence and assault are an affront to the rights of ordinary citizens in the country.
“It is both concerning and appalling to see that the violent actions and gross violation of human rights are meted out along racial lines and targeting marginalised and disadvantaged groups, especially considering South Africa’s recent past of racial segregation and apartheid.”
She said the National State of Disaster as declared by Dlamini Zuma, did not suspend the rights of ordinary South Africans. The application prompted a reply from Ramaphosa and his two Ministers – all of them were adamant that the NGO had failed to make a substantive case which would allow the High Court to rule in their favour.
Due to Ramaphosa’s replying affidavit, the NGO opted to withdraw the matter which was due to be heard in the High Court yesterday.
Sarjoo said the case was withdrawn following the response from the President and further consultation with their legal team.
“We have decided to withdraw, not because there is a lack of a case, but rather because we take the case quite seriously. We want to ensure that in our defence of the people of South Africa against any brutality – we are as thorough as possible so that those who are in power do not abuse it anyway,” says Sarjoo.
She said they would continue to monitor the conduct of law enforcement officers.
“We believe it is extremely important that the human rights and dignity of our people are not compromised in this declared state of disaster within a democracy,” Sarjoo said.