Coronavirus: Court Blocks Man From Grand Father’s Funeral
In a show of the crudest manner in which a total lockdown over the deadly Coronavirus can affect a family, the High Court of South Africa, Mpumalanga division has barred a man from attending his grand father’s funeral slated for sometime this new week.
The man, named Karel Willem Van Heerden, according to the Court Judgement, is a resident of Mbombela in the Mpumalanga Province and was informed by his mother on the morning of Friday 27th through a phone call about his grand father’s death.
The grand father lived in Hofmey located in the Eastern Cape province.
Mr Karel, thus, on the same day, moved to the Court desperately and on urgent basis seeking orders that he is temporarily exempted from travel restrictions so that he travels from Mbombela to Hofmey in order to support his mother and to assist with his grand father’s funeral.
” The [ lockdown] regulations were drawn in an urgent manner and the authors were not afforded ample opportunity to consider all aspects which could relate thereto, including without limitation, that persons’ family members do not necessarily reside in one province and in attending a funeral of a family member, a person may be obliged to move between provinces and/or municipalities” He stated in his Application.
In a bid to curb the Coronavirus and its spread, President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15th March declared a national state of disaster with a partial travel ban, travel advisories, closure of schools, discouraging use of public transport, among other measures.
And on the 23rd, he ordered a national total lockdown for 21 days which was incorporated in an amendment – ‘ Final lock down regulations’ to the COVID 19 Control Regulations.
Under the ‘Final Lock Down Regulations,’ Mr Karel is prohibited from moving from Mpumalanga to Hofmey since movement of persons and goods is restricted and every person is confined to his or her place of residence except for purposes of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, seeking emergency, life saving, or chronic medical attention.
While expressing sympathies for Mr Karel, Acting Judge of the High Court Roelofse who presided over the Court refused to allow the request on ground that accepting it would be tantamount to allowing Mr Karel to break the Law by Judicial decree.
” I have extreme sympathy for the Applicant but I must uphold the law. Presently, the law prohibits that which the Applicant wants to do however urgent and deserving” The learned Judge said, adding;
” 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 do”
The Applicant, Mr Karel sought to convince the Court that his travel would do no harm since he has not been abroad, in contact with a Coronavirus victim and that he bears no known signs or symptoms of the virus. He argued he would follow the rest of the guidelines to the letter.
However, this argument, too, was rejected by the Court.
” No matter how careful and diligent the Applicant will conduct himself, not only the Applicant but many others may be exposed to unnecessary risk, even death, if I grant the Applicant the relief he seeks” It said.
The Judgement is the first considering the lockdown regulations.