Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has signed an admission of guilt at the Vosman Police Station in Emalahleni over her non-adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the funeral service of former Minister Jackson Mthembu.
In a statement, she says she has signed the admission and also accepted the relevant fine. She has apologized to the Mthembu family, South Africans and the President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mtsweni-Tsipane says she has bought 1 000 masks to be distributed to the community and has taken a decision to go into self-isolation for a period of 14 days.
Following outrage, the premier said she was not aware that her mask had fallen off when she stepped out of her vehicle.
Mtsweni-Tsipane has also written a letter to the President expressing her regret at the incident.
“I wish to take this opportunity once again apologise to His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy President of the Republic Mr David Mabuza, the Mthembu family, the people of Mpumalanga and the rest of the country. I should have known better as a public figure and more so, attending a COVID-19 funeral.”
Below is the premier’s apology:
Cele calls for investigation into Mtsweni-Tsipane’s conduct at Mthembu’s funeral
#PoliceMinistry The Minister of Police, General #BhekiCele calls for an investigation into the alleged conduct of Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane who was seen on National TV, not wearing a mask in public. MLhttps://t.co/8Xsb95nQvR pic.twitter.com/inZwjsF2gF
— SA Police Service 🇿🇦 (@SAPoliceService) January 24, 2021
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.
Mtshweni-Tsipane welcomes guests at the funeral:
Social media users call for Mpumalanga premier’s arrest
Social media users have called for Mtsweni-Tsipane’s arrest.
On Sunday, Mtsweni-Tsipane released an apology with an explanation of what happened regarding her no-show mask at the gravesite.
In her explanation, she claimed that the mask had come loose and that she was not aware of its absence until later.
“Upon arrival at the cemetary and disembarking from her vehicle, the premier’s mask was damaged and the premier was oblivious of the fact that it had fallen off,” read in part as statement released on the premier’s behalf. “The premier was of the belief that the mask was intact, as had been the case throughout the proceedings.”
Many have disputed her claims on social media platforms, citing footage from earlier in the day, after the premier left the podium after speaking at the funeral, saying there is footage of Deputy President, David Mabuza indicating to her to put a mask on.
The minister is then seen nodding her head and walking by Mabuza without heeding his call to put on the mask.
Mabuza telling her to put her mask-on:
Later on at the gravesite, in a couple of frames from television footage, Mtsweni is seen hugging a woman in police uniform without a mask on.
By Monday afternoon, three hashtags relating to Mtsweni’s no-mask saga were trending in the country – #ArrestRefilweMshweni #MpumalangaPremier #BhekiCele
Calls for Mtsweni’s arrest
Some have called on Police Minister, Bheki Cele to take action and arrest the premier.
Cele’s office has released a statement via its Communications Manager, Lerandzo Themba saying, “The minister is investigating the matter.”
ATM leader, Vuyo Zungula also reacted to the mask saga by tweeting: “When an ordinary citizen is not wearing a mask, do police investigate or they enforce the law? No investigation is needed here, people won’t have confidence in our justice system if the elite are treated differently.”