State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa has criticised Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane for violating COVID-19 regulations. This follows a public condemnation and calls for the premier to be arrested for failure to wear a mask during the funeral of the late minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu on Sunday.

Speaking during a virtual memorial service held in Mthembu’s honour by the African National Congress (ANC), Kodwa said Mtsweni-Tsipane’s behaviour was an insult to Mthembu’s memory.

“What was painful for many people as they pay homage to comrade Jackson as broadcasted through all the news channels was that comrade Jackson was not only in the forefront of advocating the importance of adherence to the regulations to combat, but also succumbed to it. Therefore, for someone to actually parade the opposite with regards to wearing of the mask at his solemn send-off was an insult to his memory. The news today is not about celebrating the life of Jackson, but about this avoidable incidence.”

Minister Jackson Mthembu’s memorial service: 

Police Minister Bheki Cele has called for an investigation into the conduct of Mtsweni-Tsipane. All funeral attendants are required to adhere to strict health protocols including social distancing and wearing face masks, as funerals have been identified as super-spreaders of the coronavirus.

Mtsweni-Tsipane has since apologised for her conduct. However, Cele has raised concern over the incident.

Spokesperson for the Police Ministry Lirandzu Themba says, “Minister Cele says the wearing of masks in public is non-negotiable. The minister has spoken to the National Commissioner of the SAPS to look into this matter and conduct an investigation and necessary action must be taken. General Cele would like to remind all South Africans that the wearing of a mask in public is mandatory for every person. Any person who fails to comply with a verbal instruction by a law enforcement officer, to wear a mask, commits an offence, and is, upon conviction, liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment, not exceeding six months or both.”