DA lays criminal charge against KZN premier for 'illegal gathering' to salute health care workers
But Sihle Zikalala dismisses the claim as cheap publicity stunt
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard laid a criminal charge against KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala for what she believed was an illegal gathering at Clairwood, south of Durban.
Zikalala has however dismissed her claim as fake news, saying he was doing routine government work.
According to her complaint to police, Zikalala had contravened the Disaster Management Act and the national lockdown regulations at Clairwood Hospital at 10:30am.
In a video shot outside the Montclair police station where she laid the charge, Kohler Barnard said nurses and other essentials workers were allegedly "pulled out of the hospital in order to listen to Zikalala speak."
"They claim that there was social distancing but that is irrelevant because in terms of Disaster Management Act, no gathering may take place unless it is a funeral. This was most certainly not a funeral."
"Premier Zikalala had no right to hold such an event, especially in light of the fact that the police are picking up civilians all over KwaZulu-Natal on the most ridiculous charges like going to buy a loaf of bread or picking up their mother from hospital," she said.
Zikalala, in a statement issued on Monday evening, denied doing anything wrong.
"The provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal notes with dismay the statement by the Democratic Alliance alleging that it had organised a rally.
"The provincial government would like to clarify to the citizens that the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala and the Members of the Provincial Command Council today undertook a routine work of the Command Council and visited Clairwood Hospital."
The premier did an "inspection in loco" to ensure facilities were ready for quarantine and isolation.
"This was not a gathering as contemplated in the lockdown regulations but an ongoing routine work to monitor the state of preparedness by the province to respond to covid-19...
"The provincial government implores members of the public not to fall for fake news and cheap publicity stunts which are meant to shift focus away from the main task at hand."
* This story has been updated with comment from the premier's office.