The civil rights organisation AfriForum submitted an urgent application to the Northern Gauteng High Count in Pretoria on 15 May 2020 to have the draconic regulation of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs declared invalid. These regulations are aimed at putting everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 under compulsory state quarantine.
AfriForum’s application is based on the fact that these regulations are, according to the organisation, unconstitutional, illegal and irrational. The regulations determine, among other, that everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 – regardless of whether they show any symptoms – will soon be put in the government’s isolation facilities.
“These regulations give the state the power to force people without their permission into quarantine – even under circumstances where the person may be able to effectively self-isolate. This gives law enforcers and the state too much power under the guise of combatting the spread of the virus,” says Monique Taute, manager for Campaigns at AfriForum.
In its application, AfriForum argues that it would be irrational to put people under quarantine when these people can effectively self-isolate. This places an unnecessary burden on the already limited state resources – and may lead to people refusing to get tested from fear of compulsory state quarantine.
If people who test positive for the virus and who can self-isolate effectively are however forced into state facilities, it amounts to not only to a violation of these people’s fundamental rights but may in future have far-reaching implications for all citizens’ rights. Furthermore, the Zithabiseni quarantine camp and the government’s actions in response to this issue are clear proof that they do not have the capability to manage such camps responsibly. More than a hundred people were kept at Zithabiseni under horrible conditions without being tested for COVID-19. Moreover, government said that they could not test the detainees, but refused them to be tested by private medical services either. AfriForum recently won a court case in which the court ruled that the Zithabeseni quarantine had to close and the detainees be released.
“The moment the state starts violating people’s basic rights in terms of dignity, freedom of movement and security of person, it becomes easier to justify these violations in future. Even the United Nations recently expressed its concerns about the South African government’s toxic lockdown regulations. With this court case and with our international campaign (including a complaint to the UN), AfriForum fights for the preservation of the fundamental rights of everyone in the country,” Taute concludes.