South Africa: A Disturbing Example of Judicial Overreach


It simply had to happen. Given the welter of legal challenges to the declaration of the Disaster Management Act, it was always on the cards that one would succeed. And on Tuesday, Judge Norman Davis in the Gauteng High Court set aside the regulations promulgated under the Act, notwithstanding that they are now designed to regulate Level 3 as opposed to Level 4 lockdown.

The application, brought by a Reyno de Beer and the Liberty Fighters Network, a voluntary organisation, sought to set aside the declaration of the National State of Disaster and the regulations that have, effectively, been governing the lives of South Africans since mid-March. The attack against the declaration was based on an argument of an alleged irrational reaction to the coronavirus and the number of deaths caused thereby.

Sensibly, Judge Davis adopted a cautious approach to this frontal attack. It is remarkable that there are thousands of expert epidemiologists in the country, judging by the lawyers, actuaries, economists and sports scientists who opine regularly in the media, but a judge needs to show deference to a decision taken by the executive after due consultation with true experts that it consults.

The judge, again correctly, observed...

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