In terms of Section 27 of the Disaster Management Act, a national disaster was declared by the President. The Disaster Management Act provides for a national disaster to be declared if the existing legislation does not provide for the Government to deal effectively with a disaster.
On the 18th of March 2020 the regulations that regulates the circumstances and the measures imposed by the executive was published.
In terms of regulation 3 all gatherings were prohibited and the limitation of the sale of liquor were imposed.
What is of most importance is the fact that there are certain offences and penalties set out in these regulations which can, on conviction thereto, lead thereto that a fine or imprisonment can be imposed on such a convicted person.
THE REASON BEHIND LOCK DOWN.
The reason for the lock down is to ensure that people get into contact with as little as possible other people and/or a broad spectrum of people. This Disaster Act does not negate the working and effect of court orders. Therefore, it is important that in terms of the current situation you have to ensure that you also adhere to a court order.
CONTACT WITH MINOR CHILDREN – A PRACTICAL ARRANGEMENT.
The fact that lock down exists does not mean that an existing Court Order can be ignored. The parent, in whose care the minor child/ren are at the start of lock down is not allowed not to give access to the other parent in terms of a Court Order and/or a mutual arrangement between the parties. The effect of it is merely that in order to give effect of the Court Order one has to ensure that the children are transferred from the one parent to the other parent in such a way not to endanger the broad public and/or the children. It is therefore imperative that a practical arrangement with regards to the access is made in this regard.
Parents can, for example drive to a close by shopping centre and exchange the child or children in the car park or the one parent can drive to the other parent’s home in order to drop the child or children off or pick them up.
Parents are urged to, in the light of the lock down, be considerate and accommodating in allowing their children access to both parents.
It has been indicated that you will be allowed to, for instance, go for a walk with your dog and/or exercise by walking with the person that you stay in the house with and/or attend the closest grocery store and/or pharmacy in order to obtain basic food and medicine or to be able to seek medical advice. The aim of this is once again, to ensure that as little as possible people get in contact with each other in order to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. The responsibility is on the citizens to ensure that they prohibit this movement to a minimal. South Africans are atrociously diligent when it comes to taking a short cut or to bend the rules, but under these circumstances the aim of this lock down is not to police but to prevent. To “get away” with bending the rules is, under these circumstances, to the detriment of everybody.
It is therefore important that each citizen takes responsibility in this regard to ensure that he does not get infected or that he does not infect other people due to the fact that if you do so knowingly and willingly you can be found guilty of an offence.
The Health Minister, who has power to act in terms of the Disaster Act and the regulations issued, this morning indicated that “We want to avoid people congregating in large numbers, as well as panic buying. We ask people to exercise restraint, even with people in your own house.”
A 21-day holiday is not what this lock down is supposed to be. The Minister indicated that “The lock down is to avoid people mixing in large numbers.” At this stage we are still waiting for the further measures that the Department of Health will issue during the course of today.