South Africa introduces prison sentence for not wearing facemasks

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola today said South Africans face up to six months in prison for not wearing a face mask in public.

Lamola said depending on the ruling made by the magistrate, one may be fined or spend up to six months in prison for not wearing a mask in public.

He also confirmed that a conviction for not wearing a mask would result in a criminal record, even if it’s just a fine and not imprisonment.

He said this during an update of the amended lockdown regulations. The update follows an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

Lamola said, “As the minister of police has already said the charge to the contravention to the regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

The fines are as per the guidelines of the various chief magistrates across the country depending on the circumstances and the situation of the matter which will be dealt with according to the guidelines that they have issued and also on the merits of that particular matter.

They could be [an] instance where a magistrate could choose an imprisonment because its either six months or the option of a fine. So it is left to the magistrate to decide and choose which one is the appropriate sentence under the circumstances.”

Earlier, Police Minister Bheki Cele had echoed the same sentiments and said the wearing of masks in public is mandatory.

He said,”Wearing of the cloth face mask or homemade face covering item that covers the nose and the mouth is mandatory for every person when in a public space. Wearing of a mask in public is the new normal and we encourage all South Africans to adhere to this

No person will be allowed to use, operate, perform any service on any form of public transport, enter or be in the building, place or premise including Government buildings used by the public to obtain goods and service or be in any open public space if he or she is not wearing a closed face mask.”

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