No surprises here: the constitutional court, South Africa’s highest judicial forum, has refused an urgent application for direct access from a group that wanted to argue that the COVID-19 lockdown was unlawful. It claimed the virus would not seriously affect SA because African people would ‘self-heal’ from the disease.
The Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation really had no chance that this application would fly. The shoddy legal papers filed last week, the wild claims on which the application was based, the fact that it (once again) gave no reason for why it should be allowed to start at the top, as it were, rather than taking the case through the normal court system – all of this, put together, meant the bizarre petition was never going to make it.
The foundation had claimed that the lockdown and all the money being spent on dealing with the coronavirus was unconstitutional: it was unnecessary, because people in South Africa were not going to be unduly troubled by COVID-19 since it was a ‘self-healing disease for Africans’.
After the papers were filed at the court, the judges only had to deal with one question – were they prepared to let the foundation come directly to the constitutional court with its application? The judges took virtually no time at all to reach their decision.
Here’s what the court had to say in response to this question:
The Constitutional Court has considered the application for direct access to this court on an urgent basis. It has concluded that the application should be dismissed as it bears no reasonable prospects of success. The court has decided not to award costs.
It is an elegant solution to the problem posed by the application, with its fake news and pseudo-science overlay.
This application followed a similar attempt to have a case by the foundation heard by the constitutional court directly, rather than going through the normal channels. The judges in that matter were just as unanimous as on this occasion, that it was not appropriate to allow the case to start in the constitutional court, and the application was dismissed.
Is it too much to hope that the foundation has learned anything from this second attempt?