Lockdown: AfriForum lays charges with UN human rights body over 'draconic regulations'

  • Lobby group AfriForum has approached the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights over the governments implementation of the lockdown.
  • Of concern to the organisation is police brutality during the lockdown, as well as a longstanding issue it has with the BEE criteria of the tourism department's Covid-19 relief fund which, it says, are racially unfair.
  • The organisation says the government is infringing on human rights "under the guise of the national lockdown".

Lobby group AfriForum has laid charges against the government at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights over "draconic regulations and the brutal enforcement of the lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic", as well as what they say is a racial agenda promoted with tourism relief funds.

In a statement on Wednesday, the organisation said it had requested the high commissioner to launch an investigation into "violation[s] of civil freedoms in South Africa".

The charge follows a High Court judgment declaring regulations surrounding Level 3 and 4 of the lockdown irrational.

Previously, the UN Human Rights Office raised concerns over excessive use of force in several countries, including South Africa.

The organisation said the charge relates to law enforcement brutality against citizens while implementing the lockdown, "as well as the fact that the government uses the pandemic as an opportunity to promote a particular race ideology".

These discriminatory policies – which are based on race, during a crisis no less – are toxic and immoral, and must be condemned

It also related to regulations surrounding the forced quarantine of Covid-19 patients and tobacco ban, as well as AfriForum's court battle with the tourism department and the B-BBEEE criteria applied in the Tourism Relief Fund, which, it said, promoted a "racial agenda".

AfriForum took the minister of tourism to court over the application of BEE to determine who could be eligible for emergency funding.

The case was dismissed as Judge Jody Kollapen ruled it did not give unfair advantage to black companies.

But, according to AfriForum: "It is shocking that the South African government decided to further its racial agenda by abusing relief provision to struggling enterprises – especially at a time when everyone in the country is supposed to stand together against the mutual enemy Covid-19.

"These discriminatory policies – which are based on race, during a crisis no less – are toxic and immoral, and must be condemned," it said in the letter to the office.

The organisation also alleged that the government was committing human rights violations "under the guise of the national lockdown", saying law enforcement have used a heavy-handed approach to enforce the lockdown – beating people with whips, firing rubber bullets and in some cases, allegedly killing people.

It says the purpose of the charge is to pressure the government to amend regulations so that it no longer violated human rights.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
How has the delay in schools' opening impacted your life?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It's a disaster! We're struggling to manage work and kids at home
41% - 2165 votes
It's a struggle, but we learnt lessons from last year's closures
20% - 1033 votes
It's a relief, this second wave is bad and kids need to be at home
39% - 2055 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo