Government denies lockdown regulations hark back to apartheid

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Financial Mail

The government has slammed critics who have likened the national lockdown to measures under apartheid rule.

Addressing the media on Saturday, ministers who are part of the national command council, hit back at those finding fault with the government.

This comes after the BBC ran  a story which likened the lockdown, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, to measures taken by the apartheid government.

But minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu and social development minister Lindiwe Zulu defended the government’s steps to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Mthembu said the measures, which are meant to encourage South Africans to stay at home during the lockdown, were similar to actions taken by other governments worldwide.

He said even South Africans had welcomed the move by government.

“From what we have learnt from our people now, our people who have heeded the call by our government and our president to stay at home, to observe social distancing and to wash their hands frequently as a way to protect themselves and their families against this coronavirus say we are doing a good thing.

“It’s not only our people, it’s also organisations that they belong to, whether political or non-governmental organisations or church organisations that we have met with the president, organisations that are in the business sector. All these organisations say that SA is doing quite a good job in protecting our people against this virus because it indeed kills,” said Mthembu.

He said the message that is being spread around the world is for people to stay at home.

“Now, how would that be worse than apartheid? I have no idea ... we need to take all measure available to us to save lives,” said Mthembu.

He said when people go out of their homes, they come into contact with the disease and take it back to their homes.

Zulu also slammed the comparison of the lockdown measures with apartheid.

“As for the ones that say we have passed regulations that are draconian, I think those who said that have never lived under apartheid.

“Those who have lived under apartheid know what I am speaking about. We have not introduced draconian laws yet because we trust that the people of SA know the crisis we are in,” said Zulu.

She said the majority of South Africans are obeying the lockdown regulations because they want to protect themselves against the virus.

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