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Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, has warned South Africans that you could be fined or face jail time of up to six months if you appear in public without wearing a mask.

Wearing a mask is legally required to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has seen thousands of people die in South Africa so far.

At a media briefing held on Wednesday the 15th of July following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday, Lamola explained that not wearing a mask or something deemed suitable in public will lead to a charge of contravening the regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

He also elaborated on the fines and said that it will be determined according to guidelines and the ruling made by the different chief magistrates across the country.

It will be left to the magistrate to choose whether a fine or imprisonment is the appropriate option.

Lamola also added that, if found guilty, it would mean a criminal record to the offender’s name and reminded taxi drivers, compliance officers, government officials and shop owners of their responsibilities.

“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 a facility where people gather. That person must ensure no one is without a mask. That person will be prosecuted.”

While it was only encouraged to wear a mask during the initial lockdown period during the COVID-19 pandemic, amended regulations have criminalised the matter, according to Lamola this has not been an easy decision to make.

South Africa has been in lockdown since midnight of the 26th of March in the country’s fight to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The National State of Disaster has recently been extended until the 15th of August 2020.

Watch the eNCA video below for more information on the fines and possible jail time involved if someone is found guilty of not wearing a mask in public.


Image credit: Daily Maverick

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