There is space in prison for those who don’t wear masks: Cele

SABC News Bheki Cele - There is space in prison for those who don’t wear masks: Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele has cautioned South Africans who do not wear masks that they will face the full might of the law. The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) briefed the media earlier today.

This is after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement yesterday of South Africa returning to Level 3 lockdown.

Ramaphosa raised concerns about the alarming rate of the new coronavirus cases in the country.

He announced measures taken to curb the spread of the virus, which includes the mandatory wearing of masks:

Minister Cele says the police are ready to enforce the regulations and ensure that those who do not comply are arrested.

“The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in a public place. Any person who fails to comply with a verbal instruction by an enforcement officer to wear a face mask commits an offence and is, on conviction, liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both fine and imprisonment.”

A consistent problem

Failure to wear masks by some citizens has been identified as one of the things that have significantly contributed to the rising number of new coronavirus cases.

Cele says South Africans have not been cooperative when it comes to wearing masks.

“The mask thing has been a problem for a long time. The police and other people have been out there making a plea that people must wear their masks, which up to this point has been found to be one of the major preventatives that can be used to prevent this thing. So, we are glad that now the enforcement has been heightened. We are just not going to tell you or to remind you to wear the mask, if you don’t, you will definitely be arrested.”

Criminal record 

He warned that this may lead to individuals getting criminals records.

“I am sure people are asking how much the fine will be. We would have loved not to arrest you. We would like not to fine you, but if you avail yourself, we will take the opportunity of arresting you. We will definitely not deny (you) that opportunity of arresting you. But if you keep the law … the prisons are not empty but if you break the law there is space. So, in a public space keep that mask on and failing which you will become a client. We will take you and put you in there (prison), charge you and unfortunately, most of you are going to have criminal records.”

How will the fine be determined?

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, who also briefed the media, says the amount of the fine for contravening the mask regulation will be determined by magistrates.

“The fine is determined by the magistrates and we will leave it to their guidance in that regard. It is within their jurisdiction. So, they usually give each other guidance so that there is uniformity. “

The National Coronavirus Council briefing:

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