DA Goes to Court to Overturn Closure of Garden Route Beaches
DA Goes to Court to Overturn Closure of Garden Route Beaches. Photo: Tsitsikamma National Park, Garden Route, South Africa - iStockPhoto

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed court papers in the Western Cape High Court challenging a decision taken by South Africa’s national government to close the beaches in the Garden Route District for the entire festive season (16 Dec to 3 Jan).

“We had provided President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with an extended deadline of 10:00 this morning to provide reasons justifying the closure of beaches along the Western Cape’s Garden Route,” said DA Leader John Steenhuisen. “Both the President and Minister Dlamini-Zuma have failed to respond by the extended hour.”

According to Steenhuisen, the fact that the government has requested additional time to prepare their response to the DA’s letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches, only “demonstrates that there were none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured.”

Unlike in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where provincial governments called for beach closures, the DA and its governments across the Western Cape’s coastal municipalities have fought vehemently against any closure of beaches over the festive season. The government has closed all beaches in the Eastern Cape, and ordered the closure of KZN beaches on specific days when beaches are known to be packed, such as New Year’s Day.

The DA claims beach closures are “not in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts and is impossible to enforce. This regulation is also proving be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse.”

Steenhuisen said in a statement on Thursday:

In the delicate fight to save both lives and livelihoods, any job-killing Covid-19 regulation which has no rational basis in medical and scientific practice cannot be imposed. Doing so will only create a far more dangerous pandemic of widespread poverty and job losses, which we are already witnessing.

Businesses in the hospitality industry along the Garden Route are already reporting devastating and life-threatening losses to the value of hundreds of millions of rands. This is precisely why we are urgently approaching the courts to expedite the overturning of this decision as the livelihoods of thousands currently hang in the balance.

In the South African context, poverty can be far deadlier than the coronavirus, and in this instance, national government is risking the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans unnecessarily. We cannot and will not allow this to happen.

The case is expected to be heard as early as Monday 21 December 2020 at 14h30.