Justice minister Ronald Lamola on masks, non-compliance and criminal records

16 July 2020 - 09:20 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Justice minister Ronald Lamola.
Justice minister Ronald Lamola.
Image: Gallo Images/Sowetan/ Kabelo Mokoena

Justice minister Ronald Lamola gave an update on the amended lockdown regulations during a press briefing by the justice, crime prevention social security cluster on Wednesday.

He explained the functions of the courts under alert level 3 and warned that violation of lockdown regulations will now carry a criminal record if the person is found guilty by a court.

Lamola clarified that the government is not conducting “mass arrests” of people who are found without masks as the responsibility now lies with owners of facilities in which people gather.

Here are five important points from his address:

Wearing masks

“The responsibility is with the taxi driver or owner, or the person who is running a retail shop, or a government building. It is anyone who controls the facility where people gather. That person must ensure no-one is without a mask. That person will be prosecuted.”

Criminalising non-compliance 

“I must state that from the beginning when we started with the Disaster Management Act, we encouraged members of the public to wear masks. We didn't want to criminalise it, but we're now going to the second stage where we put the duty of compliance to officers. The third stage, if there's non-compliance, will be one where it lies with the public.”

Charges

“The charge would be the contravention of the contravention of the regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The fines are as per the guidelines of the various magistrates across the country depending on the circumstances and situation of the matter which will be dealt with on merits of the matter. The magistrate could choose imprisonment because it's either imprisonment or a fine.”

Functioning of courts 

“The courts can still handle first court appearances including child injustice, postponements of hearings, bail applications, corruption, sexual offences, gender-based violence, femicide, serious and violent crimes, murder and violations of Covid-19 regulations.”

Criminal record

“If a person has been found guilty within our courts, it does carry with it a criminal record. You will get a criminal record even if you are not sentenced to imprisonment and the magistrate decided to give you a fine.”


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