The civil rights organisation AfriForum today introduced a motion in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have COVID-19 Regulation 69(12)(a), (b), (c) and (d) declared unconstitutional. This regulation stipulates inter alia that all beaches in the Eastern Cape, as well as in the Garden Route will be closed from 16 December to 3 January. It also stipulates that all beaches in KwaZulu-Natal will be closed on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December, as well as from 1 to 3 January.
According to AfriForum the limiting of access to beaches, that are public property, amounts to the restriction of a basic human right. In terms of the Constitution a basic human right such as freedom of movement can only be restricted if it is firstly justifiable and secondly if it is supported by generally acceptable legislation. The government can thus not have different regulations for different beaches considering that it is not a legal principle with general acceptability. The civil rights organisation agrees that mass gatherings on beaches must be prohibited seeing that no social distancing is maintained during these gatherings.
“It is unconstitutional and discriminatory to close certain beaches given the enormous economic impact that it will have on especially coastal towns, that have been suffering the whole year due to the lockdown regulations. The December holiday is an opportunity to recover their economies to an extent and the closing of the beaches will lead to immense, irreparable damage for the businesspeople of these towns,” says Monique Taute, AfriForum’s Head of Campaigns.
“To visit the beach is a form of recreation that takes place outdoors and people are exposed to the sun that contributes to a healthier immune system. The alternative is that people will turn to places like shopping centres and restaurants that hold a much higher risk of spreading the virus,” Taute concluded.