Wednesday | 01 April | 2020
Solidarity Research Institute
On 18 March 2020, regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, were promulgated to mitigate, reduce and limit the state of national disaster in which South Africa found itself as a result of the Covid-19 virus. As the number of Covid-19 cases increased, the President of South Africa declared a state of lockdown with effect from 26 March 2020. On 25 March, these regulations were amended to include regulations regarding, among other things, the dos and don’ts of the state of lockdown.
Regulation 11G of these lockdown rules deals with the punishments for contravening these rules. The way these punitive measures will be implemented still appears unclear. According to these regulations, violation of the lockdown rules is an offence, and on conviction an offender thereof shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum period of six months, or both the fine and the period of imprisonment.
The regulations do not prescribe a fine and leave the determination of the fine to the discretion of the various courts that will hear the cases, according to their respective jurisdictions. Persons convicted and sentenced for violating the lockdown rules will have a criminal record.
While there have been media reports of numerous offenders across South Africa who have been arrested for contravening the lockdown rules, at the time of writing this article only the punitive measures and fines from the magistrate’s courts of the districts of Matlosana (Klerksdorp) and Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) have been available.
From day one of the lockdown, the media have been reporting that the police were looking for a person who allegedly had distributed fake news. Only moments after the lockdown became effective, a number of people were arrested in Johannesburg for not complying with the lockdown rules. On day two of the lockdown, a total of 17 people in the Western Cape had been arrested, and on 29 March, fines to the amount of R25 000 were imposed in the Nelson Mandela municipal area.
There also were reports of a man in KwaZulu-Natal charged with attempted murder for refusing to isolate himself, having tested positive for Covid-19.
Apparently, the authorities are taking these regulations seriously. What may you expect if caught not complying with these lockdown rules?
A list of 18 offences with the associated fines has been compiled from documents of the magistrate’s courts of the said two districts. Keep in mind that in each case, imprisonment can be imposed for a period of up to six months as an alternative, or it could be imposed with the fine:
Offence 1: You may be fined R5 000 (in the Matlosana district) or R1 000 (in the Tlokwe district) if you are caught during the lockdown period for leaving your home for a reason other than performing an essential service, buying essential goods, collecting a social allowance or seeking help in an emergency. In the Tlokwe district, if you are caught for a second time leaving your home, you may receive a R2 000 fine.
Offence 2: A R5 000 fine may be imposed if you attend a gathering of more than 100 people, excluding a funeral (which is limited to only 50 mourners). No night watches are allowed. If the required safety measures are not adhered to at a funeral, a R5 000 fine may be imposed.
Offence 3: A R5 000 fine (in the Matlosana district) or R1 000 (in die Tlokwe district) may be imposed for unauthorised travel between provinces, cities or districts. In the Tlokwe district, if you are caught for a second time for unauthorised travel, you may receive a R2 000 fine.
Offence 4: Shops or service providers not supplying essential goods or services who are doing business may be fined R3 000.
Offence 5: In the event of a shop or service provider supplying essential goods or services not taking the required measures to protect staff and customers against spreading the virus, a fine of R3 000 may also be imposed.
Offence 6: If any public places or premises are open where religious, cultural, sport, entertainment of recreational activities are exercised, such place may receive a R5 000 fine.
Offence 7: Any person who hinders an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties may expect a fine of R5 000.
Offence 8: A fine of R3 000 (in the Matlosana district) or R2 000 (in the Tlokwe district) may be imposed if an employee rendering an essential service is caught by the authorities and he/she is not in possession of a permit signed by the head of the institution where the employee is employed.
Offence 9: Workers providing essential goods or services or a person seeking medical assistance may not refuse to be tested for Covid-19; if such a person should refuse, a R5 000 fine may be imposed. It is also important to note that should a person refuse to comply with an order or instruction from a law enforcement officer to submit to a medical examination, that person may be placed in solitary confinement or quarantined for a period of 48 hours, pending the issuance of a warrant by a competent court to compel that person to undergo the medical examination.
Offence 10: Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with Covid-19 is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine of R5 000.
Offence 11: Foreigners who arrived in South Africa prior to or during the lockdown and refuse to be accommodated in temporary accommodation during the lockdown or refuse to undergo COVID-19 tests and, depending on the results of the tests, to be put in quarantine, may be fined R5 000.
Offence 12: A person who during the lockdown refuses to be removed from any place that is not in accordance with the lockdown regulations, may be taken to temporary accommodation and fined R5 000.
Offence 13: Any person using public transport who is not travelling to an essential service that he/she has to perform, not going to buy essential goods, not attending a funeral, not collecting a social grant or for an emergency, may receive a R5 000 fine.
Offence 14: Owners/drivers of public transport who transport more than 50% of the licensed capacity of the vehicle may also be fined R5 000.
Offence 15: Owners/drivers of private transport who transport more than 60% of the licensed capacity of the vehicle may be fined R2 000.
Offence 16: A R3 000 fine for the driver of public transport who does not wear a mask.
Offence 17: Drivers of public transport transporting workers for essential services outside the working hours of 05:00-09:00 and 16:00-20:00 may be fined R3 000.
Offence 18: Anyone who intentionally exposes another person to Covid-19 may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder, and on conviction, the sentence for this offense will be within the jurisdiction of the court.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.