7,000 arrested in two weeks for not wearing masks: Bheki Cele

12 January 2021 - 19:22
Police minister Bheki Cele says that in just two weeks 7,000 South Africans have been arrested for not wearing masks in public. He reminded citizens that a conviction means a criminal record.
Police minister Bheki Cele says that in just two weeks 7,000 South Africans have been arrested for not wearing masks in public. He reminded citizens that a conviction means a criminal record.
Image: GCIS

At least 7,000 South Africans have been arrested and charged for not wearing protective masks in public between December 27 and January 7, earning them criminal records.

This was revealed by police minister Bheki Cele who had been speaking to eNCA on Tuesday evening.

During the interview, Cele said 20,116 people were arrested between December 27 — the day before lockdown level 3 restrictions came into effect — and January 7.

“Starting from December 27 until January 7, 20,116 people have been arrested. Most of them for liquor offences and the masks. For mask offences, 7,000 people have been arrested.

“I must say we have found a better compliance when it comes to masks at present.  I think it's because people are realising that the situation is serious but also because we can now enforce the issue of the masks,” he said.

He said that since level 3 compliance was enforced, wearing a mask has become mandatory and not wearing one an offence that could see one getting a criminal record.

“Now we will take you to the police station and we will take your fingerprints. You choose to pay a fine or you choose to see the magistrate. Both those processes give you a criminal record and that's what South Africans must be very wary of — that this will immediately give you a criminal record and we know what criminal records do to your life,” he said.

Cele said that 342,000 South Africans had been arrested since the beginning of lockdown in March last year.

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