The Health Ministry continues to face resistance to proposed regulations, described as “draconian” and “unconstitutional”, forcing people to submit to medical examination, quarantine and treatment.
The proposed legislation is being challenged in court by various organisations, including Sakeliga, the business support lobby group, which claims the policies were designed for the ulterior motive of enforcing a “covert COVID-19 vaccine mandate, reports News24.
Separately, Michéle Clarke, the DA’s spokesperson for health, said “essentially, it is the government’s way of clinging to power by extending the State of Disaster permanently through legislation”.
She added: “These regulations ambiguously insert a clause that could enable forced vaccinations … and give the Health Minister unchecked power to install lockdown without receiving advice from experts or medical counsel. We cannot accept the ANC power grab and make the ANC all-powerful, unchallenged.”
In summary, Notice 1882, The Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions Amendment, states that any person confirmed as a clinical or laboratory case of a notifiable medical condition, or is suspected of having contracted a notifiable medical condition, or has been in contact with a carrier of a notifiable medical condition, may not refuse a medical examination (including taking of a bodily sample), admission to a health establishment, quarantine or isolation site, or mandatory prophylaxis, treatment.
Those refusing to comply face imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine, in terms of penalties already prescribed.
At least four organisations have filed High Court challenges to the regulations, as previously reported in MedicalBrief. Between April and May this year, Action 4 Freedom, and lobby group AfriForum and Dear SA launched two separate applications in the High Court, respectively.
On 5 May, the minister extended the public consultation process by three months to 5 August, although the National Health Act prescribes a period of 90 days. On 24 June, the department’s Foster Mohale confirmed the closing date for public comment to be 5 August, but declined to comment on claims the minister had bungled the public participation process, or to confirm if public comments might be rejected as a result of confusion over an inconsistent time-frame.
Two weeks after the extension Sakeliga filed an application for an order declaring the minister’s decision and the regulations be "reviewed and set aside and declared to be inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid”.
Sakeliga's application forced the ministry to provide the record of decision-making. The records revealed alleged irregularities in the processing of some 300 000 public comments, of which – claimed Sakeliga – the vast majority (97%) were opposed to the regulations.
Sakeliga analysed the data provided by the minister and compiled a report, in which it claimed: “Only 132 unique comments by unique senders appear to have been included for consideration as substantive comments and only 77 substantive comments appear to have been considered accepted, from more than 300 000 submissions.”
The matter is expected to be heard in court next month.
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