In recent years, South Africa has had its fair share of disasters (Afrikaans: “rampe”). So much so, that in respect of some of them, the authorities officially declared some as either national, provincial and/or municipal state of disasters.
Just to mention a few, they are -
(1) The reclassification of provincial disasters as a national disaster in respect of “the magnitude and severity of the ongoing drought occurring in at least three provinces”. Refer to Government Gazette No 41439 dated 13 February 2018. The three provinces referred to are apparently, at the time, the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. Also refer to “Water crises in South Africa” published in Pollex in Servamus: April 2018.
This latter declaration of a national disaster - only in respect of three provinces - was followed by a declaration of a national state of disaster in respect of “the drought crisis affecting multiple provinces [in South Africa]”. Refer to Government Gazette No 43066 dated 4 March 2020.
(2) As a result of the magnitude and severity of fires and storms that affected the Western Cape during June 2017 (in the vicinity of Knysna and surrounding areas), the Premier of the Western Cape declared it a provincial state of disaster. Refer to Western Cape Provincial Notice No 47 as published in Western Cape Provincial Gazette No 7904 dated 29 March 2018.
(3) Then there is the latest declaration of a national disaster with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic (coronavirus). Refer to Government Notice No 312 dated 15 March 2020 as published in Government Gazette No 43096 of the same date - the classification of the COVID-19 pandemic as a national disaster by the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre in terms of section 23(1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (hereinafter referred to as the “Disaster Act”). In Government Notice No 313, also dated Sunday 15 March 2020, and also published in Government Gazette No 43096 and also dated 15 March 2020, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national state of disaster.
Note that all the authorities concerned, administered all the disasters referred to supra, in terms of the Disaster Act. This is not strange as all the disasters supra, fall squarely within the word definition of “disaster” (in Afrikaans text: “ramp”) as it appears in section 1 of the Disaster Act, namely –
Note that all the authorities concerned, administered all the disasters referred to supra, in terms of the Disaster Act. This is not strange as all the disasters supra, fall squarely within the word definition of “disaster” (in Afrikaans text: “ramp”) as it appears in section 1 of the Disaster Act, namely -
“‘disaster’ means a progressive or sudden, widespread or localised natural or human-caused occurrence which -
(a) causes or threatens to cause -
(i) death, injury or disease;
(ii) damage to property, infrastructure or the environment; or
(iii) significant disruption of the life of a community; and
(b) is of a magnitude that exceeds the ability of those affected by the disaster to cope with its effects using only their own resources”.