The Pretoria high court in South Africa will rule next week whether mosques should be opened for prayer “under limitations” during the lockdown.
Muhammed Bin Hassim Mohomed, Anas Mohammed Chotia and the As-Saadiqeen Islamic Centre are challenging President Cyril Ramaphosa to relax lockdown regulations so that they can be opened for daily prayers. They are calling for mosques to be opened “under limitation” for Ramadan.
They say South Africa is not in a state of emergency and that in the state of emergency, the state has a right to take away certain rights.
They emphasised that South Africa in a state of disaster and the National Disaster Act and the regulations by the ministers are subject to ordinary constitutional scrutiny.
The matter reconvened on Thursday when advocate Feroz Boda argued that the country was not in a state of emergency and the regulations were subject to ordinary constitutional scrutiny.
Boda said his clients’ belief was that they should respond by prayer at the mosque when they hear the call to prayer. He said there would be a limited numbers of people responding to the call for prayer.
He further theorised that the prohibition was unconstitutional and unjustifiable as the regulations effectively make it a criminal offence for any person to travel to attend a congregational prayer in any place of worship.
Hence the applicants submit that the prohibition is unconstitutional and unjustifiable and offends the right of an individual to practise his or her religion.
However, State advocate Isabel Goodman made reference to patient 31 and the role she played in spreading the virus to a church congregation. He said the country is dealing with something extremely contagious and that people who pray at the mosque, go back to their families who then go out (this may spread the virus if any of them contacts it).
The Zion Christian Church postponed its annual Easter pilgrimage held at its headquarters in Moria due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
Pastors and churchgoers had to come up with alternative ways to worship, with many moving their services online.