Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said magistrates would have the final say on sentences and penalties if people were prosecuted for not wearing masks in public.
Wearing a face mask is now mandatory under revised lockdown regulations.
The minister is part of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster which on Wednesday provided an update on amended lockdown regulations following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday.
Lamola explained that taxi drivers, shop owners, and other authorities must ensure that people wear masks or they would be prosecuted.
“The responsibility is with the taxi driver or owner, or the person who is running a retail shop, or a government building. It is anyone who controls a facility where people gather. That person must ensure no one is without a mask. That person will be prosecuted.”
He added: “I must state that from the beginning when we started with the Disaster Management Act, we encouraged members of the public to wear masks. We didn’t want to criminalize it, but we’re now going to the second stage where we put the duty on compliance officers to ensure this. The third stage, if there’s non-compliance, will be one where it lies with the general public.”
Lamola warned you could get a criminal record for breaking lockdown rules if you were found guilty in court.
“There could be an instance where the magistrate reduces it. It could either be six months or the option of a fine. It is left to the magistrate to decide on the sentence under the circumstances.”
WHAT ARE THE RULES ON MASKS?
Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has stressed the importance of wearing a face during the coronavirus pandemic. Dlamini-Zuma led a briefing by ministers in the National Coronavirus Command Council on Monday.
The president announced amended regulations and said that the wearing of face masks was mandatory when in public. The wearing of face masks, however, does not apply to people who undertake “vigorous” exercise in a public place, but they’ll have to maintain a distance of at least three metres from any other person.
With South Africa among the top 10 most-affected countries in the world, Dlamini-Zuma said that South Africans should wear masks to protect themselves.
“Every single person must wear a mask. If you don’t have a mask, you can take a scarf, shawl, T-shirt or piece of cloth to put around your nose and mouth to protect everyone.”
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