You'll be hard-pressed to find a more bruising court judgement filed against a serving government of South Africa. On Tuesday afternoon, the High Court of Pretoria ruled against COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Coronavirus Command Council colleagues, declaring the lockdown guidelines 'invalid and unconstitutional'.
Dlamini-Zuma chastised by the High Court
The incredible judgment causes a splitting headache for the government, who have had the rug pulled from under their feet. What is more, Dlamini-Zuma is likely to be the minister who suffers the most damage from this – both financially and reputationally – after she was specifically named as the first respondent in the court appeal against lockdown.
Representatives of the Liberty Fighters Network and Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation – alongside Reyno Dawid de Beer – had challenged the Constitutional value of the hastily-arranged amendments to the National Disaster Act, which were initially drafted just before South Africa entered its first day of lockdown.
The claimants stated that many of the laws are not consistent with South Africa's Bill of Rights, denying citizens several freedoms that would usually be guaranteed to them. Seeing as a "state of emergency" was not declared, many on the infringements on personal liberties of Level 3 and 4 of lockdown occupied a legal grey area.
NDZ told to 'pay the costs' for legal action against government
However, this doesn't mean that the rule of lockdown now suddenly collapsed – the government has 14 days to draft some updated regulations in line with the High Court's verdict, and Level 3 guidelines must stay in place until at least the end of this deadline. However, Dlamini-Zuma and co could still challenge the decision.
In fact, the NCCC leader may be highly tempted to go through with her own counter-action. Dlamini-Zuma was also hit with a costs order, meaning she has to cover the legal fees for two of the named complainants.
The Gauteng North High Court has declared the lockdown regulations unconstitutional. However, the order is suspended until such time @DlaminiZuma and the @GovernmentZA review, amend and republish the regulations. They have 14 days to do so. pic.twitter.com/xyKVtkiVXw— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) June 2, 2020
'Dlamini-Zuma should resign', DA claim
Dean Macpherson, the shadow trade minister, and ex-Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba led the condemnation against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and calls for her resignation have already been made:
"Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel and COGTA Minister Dlamini-Zuma – who have been responsible for these regulations – should resign if they had any self-respect. However they won't. The President has the perfect opportunity to fire them both but won't because he doesn't have the guts to do it. A real mess."Dean Macpherson
"This is what happens when Ministers go rogue and use a national pandemic as a guise to pursue personal agendas and political objectives. The regulations were never guided by the science – they were guided by the personalities. You have been exposed."Herman Mashaba