Two plead guilty to illegally housing Brits during hard lockdown

17 March 2021 - 17:59 By suthentira govender
A Durban guesthouse owner and his employee both pleaded guilty to breaking the law during level 5 of the national lockdown last year by harbouring two British nationals illegally. Stock photo.
A Durban guesthouse owner and his employee both pleaded guilty to breaking the law during level 5 of the national lockdown last year by harbouring two British nationals illegally. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/STOCKSTUDIO44

A Durban guesthouse owner and an employee have pleaded guilty to contravening Covid-19 regulations when they housed two British nationals at the establishment during last year's hard lockdown.

In May last year the British duo, James Hackett and Erkan Bali, pleaded guilty to defeating or obstructing the administration of justice and contravening the Immigration Act when they illegally entered SA on April 11, disregarding Covid-19 regulations and directions in terms of the management of foreign nationals entering the country.

"Hackett and Bali arrived in South Africa in February 2020 and left together for Swaziland on March 18 2020. Then on April 11 2020 they went to the Golela port of entry in an attempt to re-enter South Africa. Even though they were denied entry, they drove straight through the port [and] ignored the border officials.

"They drove to the guesthouse where they were later arrested. They pleaded guilty in May 2020 and were handed hefty fines," said National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Natasha Kara on Wednesday.

Glenwood guest house owner Nazar Salman, 47, and his employee, Egyptian national Ahmed Othoman Elrabiey, were also arrested and charged with helping the two men.

Both men appeared in the Durban regional court.

Kara said Elrabiey, 48, pleaded guilty to failing to be confined during lockdown, for which he was sentenced to a fine of R3,000, or three months' imprisonment, of which R2,000 is suspended.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to abide by the terms and conditions of his immigrant status – he is in SA on the basis of a work permit for the perfume industry.

"However, he was managing the unlicensed guesthouse. On this count, he was sentenced to a fine of R9,000 or nine months' imprisonment, of which R6,000 is suspended."

Salman pleaded guilty to operating/conducting a business without a business license.

He was sentenced to a fine of R3,000 or three months' imprisonment, of which R2,000 was suspended.

He pleaded guilty to running a business in a residential area and was sentenced to a fine of R15,000, or 24 months' imprisonment, of which R10,000 was suspended.

Salman also pleaded guilty to running a non-essential business during lockdown.

"For this, he was fined R15,000 or six months' imprisonment, of which R10,000 was suspended," said Kara.

All the suspended sentences are for five years and on condition that they are not convicted of the of the same offences during the period of suspension.

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