12 April 2022
For immediate distribution
Draft Health Regulations – Religious communities cry foul as Department deletes email submissions
Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) has been made aware that multiple emails from the public, containing their comments on the Regulations relating to the surveillance and the control of notifiable medical conditions: Amendment (“the Draft Health Regulations”), have been deleted by the Department of Health without these emails and/or submissions being opened or read. Since opening these regulations for comment, the Department has been overwhelmed by an unprecedented level of response in the form of public submissions and Government has been severely criticised by sectors of the faith community for ignoring its concerns.
The Minister of Health gazetted and invited the public to comment on the Draft Health Regulations until 15 April 2022. Government intends to use these Draft Health Regulations as the legal instrument to manage COVID-19 (or any other disease the Minister decides to list as a “notifiable medical condition”), allowing it to exercise the same type and levels of Executive power which it has used to rule the country during the National State of Disaster.
“The Department’s deletion of public submissions on the Draft Health Regulations without even reading their comments is a gross violation of the public’s right to make representations”, says FOR SA’s Executive Director, Michael Swain. “It is an extraordinary action, resulting in an unfair public participation process that is fatally flawed and which undoubtedly opens up the Regulations to judicial review”.
To this end, FOR SA has written to the Minister of Health, not only to alert the Department of this severe breach of due process, but also to ask how the Department will ensure that every deleted comment made by members of the public will be recovered and duly considered.
For more information, contact:
Michael Swain (Executive Director of FOR SA)
Tel: 072 270 1217
Email: [email protected]