Success: AfriForum wins costs in case against government’s Covid-19 state of disaster

The civil rights organisation AfriForum won a costs order in the High Court in Pretoria today for legal action that the organisation launched in 2022 against the extension of the government’s national state of disaster. In February 2022, AfriForum served court documents in which the High Court was requested to declare the state of disaster as invalid and unlawful. Despite the organisation’s impending legal action, the government extended the state of disaster for a further month on 15 March 2022.

However, the government soon changed its mind and suspended the national state of disaster on 4 April 2022. However, this suspension was largely for show, as many of the Covid-19 regulations enacted during the state of disaster remained in place afterwards. After a transition period, the government’s amendments to the National Health Act, which were announced in March 2022, would have come into effect. These amendments would mean that most of the Covid-19 regulations would be permanently entered into the Health Act.

AfriForum also took legal action on 9 May 2022 against these amendments to regulations of the National Health Act and the government was forced to scrap these regulations as well. Furthermore, in a letter to the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), AfriForum demanded costs for the legal action it launched against the state of disaster. AfriForum argued that the government has ended the state of disaster due to the organisation’s imminent legal action. COGTA was finally ordered by the High Court on 24 March 2023 to pay costs.

“During the entire Covid-19 lockdown, AfriForum fought strongly against the government’s power abuses and cruel policies with many successes. The state of disaster case was just one of many cases that AfriForum launched and won in the interests of its members and the wider public. It is thanks to our and other civil society organisations’ sustained pressure that the government has finally abolished the state of disaster – the costs order in AfriForum’s favour confirms this,” says Ernst van Zyl, Campaign Officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum.

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