Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says people who do not adhere to the mandatory wearing of face masks in public will obtain a criminal record if found guilty by the courts.

Lamola, who was speaking during a virtual briefing by the Security Cluster Ministers, said that relevant compliance officers including,  taxi drivers, shop owners, and managers of public or private institutions could face fines or a prison sentence if found guilty of non-enforcement.

He said this could extend to the general public if non-compliance withthe face mask rule continues.

“If we are convinced that there is still non-compliance that is the next leap that government will take: that is to criminalise altogether the non-wearing of masks in public. And I must state that from the beginning you will remember that the regulations were saying that it was to encourage members of the public to wear a mask because the government did not want, from the onset, to criminalise.  And now, we are going to the second stage, which is to put the responsibility and the obligation and the duty on the compliance officers and the third stage, if there is no compliance, will be that of the general public.”

Below is the full briefing:

Inmates released 

Also speaking at the briefing, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that 6 000 inmates have already been released from prison as part of a strategy to contain the coronavirus pandemic in correctional centres.

Cele says over 3 600 infections have been recorded at the country’s 243 prisons. He says these include over 2 200 officials and just over 1 400 prisoners.

“The department is also making progress in terms of placing low-risk inmates on parole as per the parole dispensation as announced by the president. We have released a total of over 6  128 inmates. So far, this involves a meticulous process which involves victim-offender mediation and the taking of DNA samples by the SAPS inmates that are released is those who have undergone the relevant rehabilitation programmes aimed at correcting their offending behaviour.”