By Zahid Jadwat
There might still be hope that the government may relax lockdown rules to allow an exemption for Eid prayers in congregation, says lawyer Bilal Malani.
“The President will be addressing the country tomorrow [Sunday] night, perhaps there’s still hope,” he told Salaamedia.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 19:00 this evening and is expected to update South Africans on developments regarding the country’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19.
Malani had recently written to Ramaphosa and Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma requesting that the lockdown regulations be relaxed slightly in order to allow Eid prayers in congregation, provided that health protocols are in place.
Religious, cultural, and social gatherings are currently prohibited under Level 4 regulations. This is in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic while the country’s health systems undergo preparation for the peak of the Covid-19 virus.
In his letter, Malani said that attending funerals, moving house, shopping in malls, exercising between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. daily are some examples of exemptions.
Malani lashed out at the Presidency and COGTA for apparently ignoring his calls to allow Eid prayers in congregation. “Despite repeated follow up emails and requests for a response from the presidency and COGTA, we have to date not received any response.”
He described the State as being run like a “dictatorship”. “The state is behaving like a dictatorship and no longer as a democracy. This is borne out by the fact that the state is ignoring our humble requests for a negotiated agreement in respect of relaxation of certain of the lockdown regulations particularly relying on basic human rights such as the right to conduct and participate in congregational prayers.”
Malani was not the first to vent his frustration with the ongoing lockdown which has drawn harsh criticism for, amongst others, the massive economic fallout that has come as a result.
Malani added: “It appears that the state would rather be misguided by its purported experts and not facts and common sense.”
“We fear that irreparable harm has been and will continue to be perpetrated against the citizens of our beloved country.”
Featured image via FreePik.