To date, the Covid-19 onslaught has killed more than a million people and nobody knows how many more deaths will follow. The death toll in South Africa is so far relatively modest. But like elsewhere in the world, efforts to curb the pandemic have caused psychological distress and economic devastation. This is hardly surprising since large sections of the economy have been shut down here for nearly two months. Relaxation had to follow.
The challenges confronting South Africa’s court system prior to the arrival of the novel Corona Virus Covid-19 are well-documented. The system’s immunity was already compromised, so to speak. With the arrival and continued spread of Covid-19 in South Africa, the court system is no longer at risk of being infected; it is infected. This article briefly considers the impact of Covid-19 on access to South African courts.
JUTA commissioned a research project to understand the content needs of legal professionals and tax specialists and how these industries have adopted digital transformation. JUTA partnered with Ask Afrika that conducted the research among 300 legal professionals, tax specialists, academia, and librarians. Most respondents were black between the ages of 30-64, working in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Small and large companies with regard to the number of permanent employees were interviewed with tenure up to 20 years in each prospective profession. The fieldwork was completed between February and May 2020.
There is currently a great deal of uncertainty in the education sector. In fact, the only certainty is that things are uncertain! We do not know when the schools will reopen (just look at all the different dates that are already out there), we do not know how lost time will be made up, we do not know what the dates of the next terms will be, etc. We do know that the rest of 2020 will be a disrupted school year, parents and businesses will suffer financial losses and may struggle to pay school and hostel fees. We know that many sports, cultural, social, and fundraising activities have been postponed or canceled.
This new contribution seeks to provide a weekly analysis of constitutional issues arising from COVID-19 and the responses to it. In this instalment, I consider the role of the courts.
In my first contribution a fortnight ago, I considered the broad constitutional implications of COVID-19 for the functioning of government and constitutional rights. My second installment considered the crucial role of Parliament and the efforts to reopen the legislature and its committees virtually. This week, I focus on the courts.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has led governments across the globe to introduce wide-ranging measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease. This unprecedented occurrence caught the world unawares. In South Africa, extensive lockdown regulations were issued on 18 March 2020 in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. An update and amendment to these regulations were published on 25 March 2020. These regulations will remain in force throughout and after the lockdown until such time as the President confirms that South Africa is no longer in a state of emergency.
This new contribution seeks to provide a weekly analysis of constitutional issues arising from COVID-19 and the responses to it. In this installment, I consider the role of Parliament during COVID-19.
Parliament has three main constitutional functions – to make laws, to provide a national forum for public consideration of issues, and to provide oversight over the executive (s 42(3) of the Constitution). When making laws, Parliament is obliged to facilitate public participation in the process (s 59(1)(a)). During the lockdown, Parliament ceased to perform these functions as soon as it was suspended. Rather, as I described last week, several ministers promulgated a raft of new regulations in an emergency, executive-driven response to Covid-19.