18 August 2020
URGENT, and HIGH PRIORITY
Dear Dr Dlamini-Zuma,
RE: ALERT LEVEL 2 REGULATIONS, AND THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY
- We refer to our letter to you dated 6 August 2020 (following the Zoom meeting that took place between FOR SA and yourself on 4 August 2020) to which we have not yet had a response, and to the Regulations for Alert Level 2 published in the Government Gazette on 17 August 2020 (“the Regulations”).
- We note that, in terms of clause 55(2)(a) of the Regulations, religious gatherings remain restricted to 50 persons or less, depending on the size of the place of worship.
- The effect of the above is that, even though the entire economy has now essentially opened up (except for the seven specific economic exclusions set out in Table 3 to the Regulations), in respect of the religious sector, however, there has been no relaxation whatsoever of the stringent regulations that pertain to religious gatherings from Level 3 to Level 2.
- Given the fact that the religious community is a major contributor to the South African economy, both as an employer and as a tax payer, we submit that Government is unfairly and inequitably applying different standards to the religious community when compared to other sectors of the economy.
- Given further that Government’s stated and paramount purpose of the COVID-19 lockdown strategy is to help reducing the rate of infections and to “flatten the curve” to allow Government to ramp up medical resources and capacity (which now has been factually achieved), we submit that there is no justification for any disparity of treatment of the religious community by Government as evidenced by the current Regulations and Directions.
- In light of the above disparity and with a view to reflecting the entire country’s move to Level 2, kindly advise whether Government intends to make adjustments to the Directions pertaining to the norms and standards for religious gatherings (issued under Alert Level 3) accordingly, and by when these can be expected?
We look forward to receiving your written reply by no later than Friday, 21 August 2020 so that we can revert to our constituency accordingly.
Adv Nadene L. Badenhorst
Legal Counsel, FOR SA
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