POLL | Should Mpumalanga premier Mtsweni-Tsipane be arrested for going maskless in public?
There are growing calls from the public and opposition parties for police to arrest Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane after she was captured on TV without a face mask at minister Jackson Mthembu’s funeral on Sunday.
Mthembu was laid to rest in his hometown of Emalahleni, Mpumalanga. He died last Thursday from complications related to Covid-19.
Police minister Bheki Cele has since called for an investigation into Mtsweni-Tsipane’s conduct.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM) on Monday said Mtsweni-Tsipane must be held accountable for her “reckless” conduct and for putting the lives of her family and staff at risk.
“ATM is calling on minister Cele to be consistent with lockdown contravention arrests and for the courts to impose a hefty fine. Ensure the premier gets the maximum jail sentence of six months for the contravention of such laws and further ensure her criminal record sticks indefinitely,” the party said.
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The DA dismissed Cele’s call for an investigation, saying the premier’s failure to wear a mask was broadcast “live on national television in full view of all South Africans”.
The party called for the premier to appear before portfolio committees in the Mpumalanga Legislature.
“Premier Mtsweni-Tsipane must be subjected to the same treatment as any South African. She should be arrested and fined R1,500, payable in her personal capacity,” the DA said on Monday.
The premier has since apologised and “deposited a statement of guilt” at the Vosman police station in Emalahleni.
“I have noted social media and media reports revealing moments where I was walking around without a mask. I have since reflected deeply on this momentary lapse, which I regret profusely. I should have known better as a public figure, and more so attending a Covid-19 funeral,” she said.
“To this effect, I have deposited a statement of guilt at the Vosman police station in Emalahleni where I accepted the necessary fine.”
She also committed to buying and distributing 1,000 masks to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“I wish to take this opportunity to express my condolences to all the families who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic. I also wish those who are currently struggling with the virus a speedy recovery.”