Unvaccinated Congregants Can Attend Church Services, High Court Rules

Unvaccinated congregants can now attend church services and police are barred from arresting them, High Court judge David Mangota ruled, Thursday.

The ruling follows an August 27 urgent chamber application by human rights lawyer, Obert Kondongwe challenging the legality of the government’s August 11 decision to bar unvaccinated congregants from attending church services.

“Cabinet wishes to inform the public that churches can now allow sit-in congregants under the following conditions: only congregants who have received two doses of the [COVID-19] vaccine are allowed to attend,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced on August 11.

“And all Ministry of Health and Child Care and WHO protocols have to be adhered to. And those found in breach will be arrested including the leaders of the church.”

In his application, Obert Kondongwe, who is founder of Lawyers for Truth, Health, Justice and Freedom, through his lawyers from Mundida and Mudhara law firm, cited Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, Health minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and the Attorney General, Prince Machaya, as first, second, third and fourth respondents, respectively.

He argued the directive to stop unvaccinated congregants from attending church was not only discriminatory but illegal and unconstitutional.

In its provisional order issued today, the High Court dismissed Mutsvangwa’s statement as null and void.

“The statement issued by the 1st respondent (Mutsvangwa) on the 11th of August 2021 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 Section 51, 52, 56, 58 and 60,” said the High Court.

The Court did not give an order for costs.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the effect of the orders in paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 above is to set aside the statement issued by first respondent (Mutsvangwa) on behalf of Government barring unvaccinated sit-in congregants of churches and to set aside any criminal proceedings instituted against the unvaccinated from the foregoing,” said the Court.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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