Minister Lamola appoints COVID-19 Designated Judge

April 9th, 2020

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has appointed, Justice Catherine O’Regan, as the COVID-19 Designate Judge. In a media statement released by the Justice Ministry, it stated that the regulation issued in terms of s 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 and GN R446 GG43199/2-4-2020, made provision for contact tracing and for a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

The statement added that reg 11H empowers the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to designate a judge who has been discharged from active service under s 3(2) of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act 47 of 2001 or a retired High Court Judge, as the COVID-19 Designate Judge. The regulations provide that the Director-General (DG) of Health may direct an electronic communications service provider to provide them with information regarding the location or movements of any persons known, or reasonably suspected, to have contracted COVID-19 or any person known, or reasonably suspected to have been in contact with such person. The statement pointed out that the requested information would be for inclusion in the COVID-19 Tracing Database.

The statement further stated that, while government does all it can to implement measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Designated Judge has an important role to play to safeguard the privacy and personal information of persons during this process. The statement added that the DG of Health must file a weekly report with the COVID-19 Designated Judge setting out the names and details of all persons whose location and movements were so obtained. The COVID-19 Designated Judge may also make recommendations to Cabinet members responsible for Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Health and Justice and Correctional Services as they deem fit, regarding the amendment or enforcement of regulations to safeguard the right to privacy while ensuring the ability of the Department of Health to engage in urgent and effective contact tracing to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19.

‘Justice O’Regan is a highly respected former Judge of our Constitutional Court and is known for her unwavering commitment to human rights, social justice and the rule of law. I am grateful to Justice O’Regan for availing herself for this role so as to ensure that whilst we fight COVID-19, people’s rights to privacy are not compromised’, Mr Lamola said.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

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