During our legal proceedings against the Department of Health, DearSA’s legal team obtained records of the Minister’s decision to publish the current health regulations. These records contain more than 1.5 million pages of information, including emails, comments, and reports.
The contents of these files are highly revealing regarding the Department of Health’s view on the public participation process. Astonishingly, officials of the Department consider the “four organised groups” challenging the regulations to be such a danger that their conduct amounts to “sabotage, instigating chaos or terrorism against the state”. The “four groups” refer to DearSA, AfriForum, Liberty Fighters Network and Action 4 Freedom.
Another revelation was the decision tree the Health Department applies in processing the public’s submissions. By using the tree, the Department pre-emptively excluded all objections to the regulations in their entirety by design. Therefore anyone who objected to the regulations without referring to specific sections, paragraphs, and points did not have their comments considered. Further, the Department recommends that government should pass the regulations regardless of public input. And any objections to the regulations as a whole are not acceptable.
“It is obvious that the government doesn’t have any legitimate defence for these health regulations. Referring to concerned civil society organisations, as well as the ordinary citizens who participated in a constitutionally-mandated and protected process, as terrorists and saboteurs is patently ridiculous. The Department is completely overwhelmed with public comments because these proposed regulations are unpopular due to their invasive, onerous, and unconstitutional nature. They don’t have a leg to stand on, and are desperately grasping at straws.” Said Gideon Joubert, CEO of DearSA, on Thursday morning.
DearSA and AfriForum’s case against the interim COVID regulations will be in court on 26 and 27 July.