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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

MEDIA STATEMENT: SAHRC Responds to the Phased Lifting of COVID-19 National Lockdown

24 April 2020

ATT: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or the Commission) notes the devastating impact the Corona Virus has had on the global as well as South African economy and society. The SAHRC, along with key international bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), applauds the South African government’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 through declaring a National Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 and implanting a national lockdown.

The Commission however welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Thursday, the 23rd April 2020, where he announced his government’s plan to phase out the hard lockdown regulations currently in place. The phased lifting of the hard lockdown regulations as of the 1st May 2020, is intended to return South Africans to economic participation, whilst adhering to practices that are aimed to limit the spread of the potentially fatal and virulent disease.

COVID-19 still remains a threat in South Africa, with an increase of 318 infected persons recorded on Thursday, the 23rd April 2020 – the highest number of new infections within a twenty four hour period, within South Africa. With a high daily infection rate, with a total of 3 953 infections and 75 deaths, COVID-19 remains a clear and present threat.

However due to limited movement and economic activity, many rights such as the right to education and related socio-economic rights concerns have been deeply impacted by necessary regulations in place.   Jobs have been affected, levels of poverty have increased and the already compromised delivery of basic services such as water, sanitation, housing and many others, has been severely negatively affected.

The SAHRC re-iterates its call that all South Africans continue to comply with social distancing, even during this period of anticipated easing of lockdown regulations that we continue to adhere to the conditions of the phased lifting of hard lockdown conditions and to co-operate with the lawful instructions of authorities.

The Commission remains committed that the measures introduced in response to the epidemic should not unduly undermine the human rights of South Africans.

In line with the President’s request that all those who can work from home, should do so to maintain social distancing, the SAHRC will continue discharge its fiduciary duties on a strict work-from-home basis for all staff members, who are able to. The Commission will continue to exercise its Constitutional mandate to monitor the observance of human rights during this difficult period.


– Ends –

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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