Moving company takes government to court over lockdown rules

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
Eezi Move is urging the government to allow the removals industry to return to work under level 4 of the lockdown.
Eezi Move is urging the government to allow the removals industry to return to work under level 4 of the lockdown.
Image: 123RF/Tom Baker

One of South Africa’s largest independent moving companies, Eezi Move, on Monday applied for an urgent interdict in the Pretoria high court to enable the company - and the removals industry as a whole -  to resume business and, in so doing, end their clients’ “unimaginable hardship”.

The removals industry, along with thousands of South Africans who are desperate to move into or out of their rented or owned homes, had been expecting this to be allowed by the government by May 1.

But the level 4 lockdown regulations published late last Thursday made no provision for relocations.

The only concession made was for those who’ve been isolating at addresses other than their own since lockdown began at midnight on March 26 to travel to their homes between May 1 and 7 - making use of a private bakkie to transport their possessions if necessary.

“Moving from a current address to a new one is not allowed in level 4,” transport department director-general Alec Moemi.

“That’s why removal companies may not operate in level 4.”

However, the DG hinted at a transport briefing on Friday that may make it possible in level 4.

For now, many people are being forced to stay in units they can no longer afford to rent - and remain liable for payment - while others are paying bond instalments on homes they can’t move into, or rent on places they desperately want to leave but can’t.

Many are being pressured to pay rent on two properties: the one they are forced to remain in, and the one they contracted to move into this month.

Eezi Move and many other removal companies have had their clients’ possessions in storage since late March when the country went into lockdown, unable to deliver them.

“It goes without saying that not having the most basic of household items at your disposal because it can’t be delivered causes unimaginable hardship,” said head of operations Chris Davel on Monday.

“Many of our customers have shared the difficulties they face - from having to sleep on the floor and not being able to take occupation of their new homes to not even having their winter clothing.

“We could no longer idly sit by and continue to watch our business, employees and customers suffer.”

The company has been preparing to reopen for business with various precautionary measures: allowing most admin staff to work from home, issuing face masks and hand sanitiser to those who are not, checking staff temperatures daily, and disinfecting the truck fleet daily.

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