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No exemption for funeral – court

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Judge upholds the law, refuses Mpumalanga man permission to travel to Eastern Cape

A JUDGE had extreme sympathy with a man who wanted to attend the death of his grandfather in another province, but he had to uphold the law and refuse him permission to travel.

It was the first urgent application in the country regarding restricting the movement of people since the 21 days of lockdown was announced last week.

On Friday, Karel Willem van Heerden, who lives in Mbombela in Mpumalanga, made an urgent court application in that province to obtain permission to travel to Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape.

His mother had just told him that his grandfather had died tragically in a fire at his home earlier that morning.

Van Heerden desperately wanted to travel to Hofmeyr to support his mother and to assist with funeral arrangements. 

The funeral is to take place sometime this week but in terms of the lockdown provisions, he is not allowed to travel from one province to the other.

Van Heerden turned to court to be temporarily exempted from the travelling restrictions.

He asked permission to leave Mbombela on Saturday (March 28) for Hofmeyr and remain there until April 6.

He said in an affidavit submitted to the court that there would be no risk of him contaminating anyone with Covid-19 during his trip.

He said he had not been in contact with anyone from abroad or a person who contracted the virus. He also said that he did not display any of the known symptoms of the virus.

Van Heerden further stated that he intended to comply with all the provisions of the regulations and that he would apply all the necessary precautions to prevent contamination or the spread of the virus.

He argued that funerals are allowed in terms of the lockdown regulations. He accepted these regulations, but argued that the regulations were drawn up as a matter of urgency and that the government did not have the opportunity to consider all the aspects which relate to it.

In this regard he said no thought was given to what should happen if a person urgently had to move between provinces due to the death of a family member.

“I have extreme sympathy for the applicant, but I must uphold the law. Unfortunately, presently the law prohibits that which the applicant wants to do, however urgent and deserving,” Judge Johannes Hendrikse Roelofse said.

He said the executive, under enabling legislation, invoked the law by declaring a state of disaster in order to curb the spread of the virus and this applied to everyone within the borders of the country.

“I cannot accede to the relief the applicant seeks because in doing so, I will be authorising the applicant to break the law under judicial decree – that no court can.”

The judge said no matter how carefully Van Heerden conducted himself, not only he, but many others may be exposed to unnecessary risk or even death, if he granted the order.

The judge said the circumstances of this application were extremely upsetting and showed, in the crudest manner, the crude effects of the final lockdown regulations upon a family.