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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


ELOFF, Daniël. The rationality test in lockdown litigation in South Africa. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.1157-1180. ISSN 1996-2096.

The COVID-19 pandemic that commenced in 2020 confronted South African courts with questions regarding the rationality of decision making during exigent times. South African administrative law has seen continuous development since the negotiated adoption of South Africa's constitutional dispensation. This article examines the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the interpretation and application of the test for rationality by examining three particular 'lockdown' cases and how the test was subsequently applied, in all three cases under expedited circumstances and with truncated times in terms of procedure. The three cases discussed dealt with the rationality of decisions made through executive action aimed at protecting the public against the spread of COVID-19 through restrictive measures that limited an array of constitutional rights. The article concludes that the consistent application of the rationality test and, more importantly, the supremacy of the Constitution and its guaranteed rights, do not change with the onset of a pandemic. Moreover, the scrutiny applied over governmental decision making should not waiver.

Keywords : rationality test; administrative law; COVID-19; pandemic; lockdown litigation; Disaster Management Act; PAJA; just administrative action; review.

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