Mmusi Maimane and his new movement One South Africa argued in court on Thursday against the reopening of schools and the rush to ease lockdown.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, acting on behalf of Maimane, argued that the government was simply not ready to ease regulations despite the soaring number of Covid-19 infections.
He said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize admitted that according to the World Health Organisation, South Africa did not qualify to move to level 3.
“We are not saying they must never go back to school and that the lockdown must last forever.
“There is no one who wants the children to go back more than the applicants. If it was up to them, they would have wanted them to go back yesterday.”
Mpofu argued that lockdown regulations could only be eased once the number of infections had reduced. And once the government had a constructive plan in place on how to deal with these issues.
He further argued that two legs of what they were asking – that schools not reopen, and that the government’s decision to move from level 4 to level 3 be overturned – went hand in hand.
By sending children back to school, the government was releasing them into a “raging fire”, Mpofu said.
In May, Maimane’s online petition against the reopening of schools garnered more than 100 000 signatures, enough to challenge the decision in court.
Overwhelmed and anxious
As the Covid-19 infection rate increases in schools, parents and teachers feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Principal SV Naidoo of Meadowlands Technical High School in Durban, said the Department of Basic Education is continuing with all processes for the final exam.
“There are 12 educators with comorbidities in my school but they have to report to work to educate the learners. This is their commitment to our learners.”
“We have to ensure that we keep the school disinfected and sanitised multiple times in a day. There is immense pressure on the cleaning staff.
“We have eight screeners/educators and other personnel on duty for approximately 90 minutes in the morning. Educators are also stressed and fearful of falling victim to Covid-19.
As of Friday morning, there are 83 890 positive cases of Covid-19 with 44 920 total recoveries.