State of nation disaster will affect human rights

Image: Jozef Polc/

The state of nation disaster means that some of the human rights listed in the bill of rights would be limited.

As such in order to curb the spread of coronavirus, random testing of public transport patrons would be introduced along with heightened hygiene and sanitation

Majority of South Africans rely on public transport - such as taxis, buses and trains - to commute to work. There are others who use flights to travel to work on daily basis. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that they would be meeting with the sector where random testing and sanitation would be introduced.

Mbalula formed part of the ministers who were providing clarity on how their respective departments would deal with the implementation of a state of national disaster as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night.

The announcement came as the number of infected persons keep rising with the number now standing at over 60.

The domestic public transport sector will not be grounded or locked down but Mbalula said in order to keep track of the virus spread, they would conduct random testing.

In the airports, staff that handle catering, luggage, ticketing and others will now have to wear surgical masks and gloves.

Charted planes would also be rerouted to international airports such as OR Tambo, Lanseria and Cape Town.

“We will engage with everybody and issue instructions. Among others in our space we’ve got Prasa which will undergo and perform sanitation in all our trains,” Mbalula.

“Of course the social distancing will affect us en masse in terms of trains and taxis so that include education in relation to this but over and above random testing will be applied in all the taxi ranks and also in the trains but equally taxis will also be expected to undergo sanitation.”

Justice minister Ronald Lamola confirmed that people's rights would, to an extend, be limited.

“The President’s announcement affects the rights of South Africans. In terms of the constitution the limitation clause it does provide for the limitation of rights,” Lamola said.

“It says that in terms limitation clause, rights listed in the bill of rights may be limited by law of general application where the limitation would be reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society.”

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