Court should not allow children to be sent into 'the lion's den', Maimane's lawyer argues

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One SA Movement leader and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
One SA Movement leader and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
Jan Gerber, News24
  • Mmusi Maimane is challenging the decision to send children back to school and the shift from Level 4 to 3.
  • His advocate, Dali Mpofu, argued the danger of releasing two million children and eight million workers would be multiplied.
  • He said some schools lack basics, adding the government should be sensitive to the realities of the country.

"We cannot release children and other people into a raging fire."

This is an argument brought by One SA leader Mmusi Maimane, who is challenging the decision to send children back to school on 8 June, and the change from Level 4 to 3, which allows for greater movement.

Maimane is challenging the decisions of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, on behalf of Maimane, argued in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday his client was not saying there should be a never-ending lockdown, but children's rights should be paramount.

Mpofu said shifting from Level 4 to 3 and releasing about two million children to go back to school, while also opening the economy by allowing eight million workers to go back to work, would put many in danger.

"If I am a worker and my child is going to school on the same day, we are going to travel in the same taxi and face the same danger of Covid-19 and, come back using the same taxi."

READ | 95% of schools ready to reopen after 'drastically improved' mop-up week - Motshekga

Mpofu added the "danger" of releasing children to go back to school would be multiplied because of the interaction there, saying the idea children could not infect others should not be entertained.

"What if these children go and infect all their parents, what are we going to have? This lockdown will be like a Sunday picnic.

"According to the government, the lockdown has saved tens of thousands of lives, so these…lives will now be lost."

Mpofu argued the government had set a bar for itself for when to move from one level to another – one being it would change levels if and when infections declined and preparing healthcare facilities.

But the government had failed because the rate of infection had grown, he said.

Realities of the country

Mpofu added the court was here to say "you are not going to send children to the lion's den…or to send them to go and collect a virus".

He said there were schools that did not have running water, desks and roads, adding the government should be sensitive to the realities of the country.

Since the reopening of schools, more than 50 schools have been closed in Gauteng after positive cases of Covid-19 were reported, News24 reported.

The province's premier, David Makhura, and the Gauteng Coronavirus Command Council previously said 54 schools have been affected by 56 cases reported in districts across the province.

In the Western Cape, more than 60 schools that reopened had to be closed down to allow for decontamination, City Press reported.

The case continues.

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