Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has traded minutes without a mask for a potential 10 years with a criminal record.
The premier sparked public outcry on Sunday, when she was filmed without a mask on at the late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu’s funeral in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga. She has subsequently apologised and paid an admission of guilt fine for violating the Disaster Management Act.
On Tuesday the National Prosecuting Authority’s Monica Nyuswa confirmed the “momentary lapse” had earned Mtsweni-Tsipane a criminal record.
Criminal law expert Dr Llewelyn Curlewis said the premier would most likely be able to get her record expunged. But, he added, she would only be eligible to lodge her application after the prescription of 10 years, in accordance with the law.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola last year indicated the state was considering automatically expunging criminal records that had been acquired purely as a result of the current state of disaster and the new laws it brought with it.
There are, however, no concrete plans in place at present. Either way, Curlewis said for now at least the premier’s record could throw a spanner in the works of any plans she had to apply for a firearm licence or an international travel visa.
“When you apply for a firearm licence, you have to disclose any previous convictions and this is one of those.
“And if you happen to apply for a visa to the United States, for example, you have to indicate whether you have a criminal record,” he said.
He also said it meant the premier was now not eligible to act in any capacity in which she was prohibited from having a criminal record.
This does not, however, mean that her career in public office is necessarily at risk.In terms of the constitution, a
criminal conviction only disqualifies one from being a member of a provincial legislature if it’s coupled with a sentence of more than 12 months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine.