18 January 2021
For immediate distribution
FOR SA asks to appeal High Court judgment on religious gatherings
On Wednesday, 19 January 2022, Freedom of Religion South Africa’s (FOR SA’s) legal team will argue that FOR SA should be allowed to appeal last month’s judgment by the Johannesburg High Court, dismissing FOR SA’s challenge to the Government’s ban on religious gatherings in December 2020 / January 2021 while other gatherings were allowed to continue. The application for leave to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), is opposed by the State.
“FOR SA is asking for permission to appeal the matter, because the High Court’s refusal to scrutinise Government’s actions has massive implications – not just for the religious community, but for the people of South Africa in the broadest sense. The Disaster Management Act already excludes Parliament’s oversight over the actions of the Executive. This judgment now means that not even our Courts can oversee such actions. It effectively puts unfettered power in the hands of Government to make unilateral regulatory decisions regarding any and every aspect of people’s lives”, says FOR SA’s Executive Director, Michael Swain. “The judgment is too important, and too dangerous, not to appeal. The effect of the Court’s decision harkens back to the pre-constitutional era where immense power was concentrated in the hands of the few. This sets an incredibly dangerous precedent going forward.”
FOR SA’s case against the COGTA Minister was supported by religious leaders and organisations representing 11 million people from a broad spectrum of the faith community. The case was heard in a virtual hearing before the Johannesburg High Court from 22 – 24 November 2021, together with other, similar applications by the South African National Christian Forum (SANCF), Solidariteit Helpende Hand NPC and the Muslim Lawyers Association, all of which were dismissed by the Court in its judgment of 13 December 2021.
Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is a legal advocacy group mandated to protect and promote the constitutional rights of all South Africans, regardless of their specific religious or ideological beliefs. FOR SA is therefore ideologically neutral and non-partisan in terms of any interpretation of doctrine, faith or belief to the extent that it complies with the rule of law.
For more information, contact:
Executive Director, FOR SA
Email: [email protected]
Cell: 072 270 1217