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ATM to lay charges against Minister Mbalula for addressing hundreds at Noord taxi rank

Fikile Mbalula

ATM says the minister, together with government officials, set a bad example by violating physical distancing in full view of millions.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) will lay charges against Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula for allegedly violating lockdown rules in terms of Regulation Gazette No 11062 on 25 March 2020 where he addressed a massive crowd at the Noord Taxi Rank in Johannesburg.

On April 1, Mbalula addressed the hundreds of commuters at a time regulations prohibited the gathering of crowds of more than 100, which was later revised to no more than 50.

ATM’s Gauteng spokesperson and NEC member Nyaniso Jeku said: “Media reports supported by visuals estimated the crowd to exceed 300 people. The multitudes of people were standing shoulder to shoulder, violating physical distancing and putting their lives at risk while listening to the minister.

“Even more concerning was that the minister himself, for a considerable part of his address, together with some of the government officials, also set a bad example by violating physical distancing in full view of millions of television viewers.

“The regulations do not exempt Covid-19 communication, so notwithstanding the content of the briefing, the law was broken.”

The party called on both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele to act decisively on the transgression.

“If churches are not allowed to congregate their members, there’s no reason for the minister to break the law in the manner he did. The law must apply equally to all the citizens of South Africa without fear or favour, and we call on Minister Cele to also give this matter his urgent attention.”

Mbalula was referred to as an April fool on social media at the beginning of the month as viewers called out the lack of social distancing and use of personal protective equipment by hundreds of bystanders.

Following his meeting with the South African National Taxi Council, during which they threatened a nationwide strike over the lockdown regulations, Mbalula addressed taxi drivers and owners on the changes to taxi operating times and passenger numbers in an effort to avoid strike action.

Speaking at the Noord taxi rank in the Johannesburg CBD, he said his department had conducted an assessment of previous measures and consulted with the taxi industry on ways to better them.

He was then criticized on social media for the volumes of people in the crowd he was addressing.

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Source: The Citizen