By Thandiwe Garusa
THE High Court has ordered congregants who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 can now attend church services with the police barred from arresting them.
Last month, the Cabinet announced churches must open only to vaccinated congregants with not more than 100 congregants attending.
However, an interim order passed by the High Court sets aside the Cabinet’s decision.
The ruling follows an application filed by human rights lawyer Obert Kondongwe challenging the decree arguing it had no legal standing.
“The statement issued by the Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa on the 11th of August on behalf of government following a Cabinet meeting on the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination of sit-in congregants in churches and barring unvaccinated sit-in congregants from churches is null and void to the extent that infringes constitutional rights and freedoms set out in the declaration of rights under sections 51, 52, 58 and 60,” Kondongwe argued.
“Arising from the foregoing paragraph 1 of this order, any purported ban on unvaccinated sit-in congregants in churches and any arrests or criminal proceedings of unvaccinated sit-in congregants of churches enforced by the Home Affairs Minister (Kazembe) Kazembe is unlawful, null and void and of no force or effect and are set aside.
“There shall be no order as to costs unless this application is opposed in which event the respondents that oppose the application shall pay costs of suit on the legal practitioner and client scale.”
In response to the High Court interim order, it was ruled while for the full High Court ruling, unvaccinated congregants should be granted permission to attend church services.
“The statement issued by Mutsvangwa on behalf of the Cabinet barring unvaccinated sit-in congregants in churches be suspended pending the return date of this application.
“Further, and as attached to the foregoing, the conduct of Kazembe in enforcing the statement by Cabinet and conducting arrests and criminal proceedings against unvaccinated sit-in church congregants be suspended pending the return date of this application.