In the second high court judgment in as many days the Pretoria High Court has dismissed three urgent applications seeking to overturn the government’s decision to close beaches in the Eastern Cape and on the Garden Route over the festive season.

Judge Hans Fabricius ruled on Wednesday that in the matters brought by the Kouga local municipality, the Great Brak River Business Forum, the Buffelsbaai Home Owners Association and the Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association that any infringement of rights resulting from the ban was justified in terms of the constitution. The decision to close the beaches, he said, was not irrational or unlawful.

The ruling comes hot on the heels of the Western Cape High Court’s rejection of a similar application by the DA on Tuesday.

“There is no doubt that the state has a constitutional obligation to protect the health of its citizens or inhabitants,” judge Fabricius said. “The pandemic must be halted or its spread at least limited by all lawful and rational means.”

The government took the decision on the basis of the sudden spike in infections as a result of the virus having mutated into a new variant, and based on views of experts of international renown. “Hospitals are already overwhelmed, elective surgery has been cancelled, and even younger people have now been found to be spreaders of the virus,” the judge noted.

The government has to ensure that the public health system and hospitals and clinics can cope, according to the judge.

“The strain on public health resources can and should be reduced by limiting movement of persons during the festive season during which, for some strange reason, persons seem to lack perspective and responsibility on a daily basis. The risk of contracting and transmitting the virus must be reduced. I agree that these purposes are legitimate, urgent and necessary.”


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