The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Mpumalanga on Tuesday rejected Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s decision to sign a statement of guilt and pay a fine after she was captured on television not wearing a mask at the funeral of late Cabinet minister, Jackson Mthembu, in Emalahleni at the weekend.
The party’s chairperson in the province Collen Sedibe told The Citizen they wanted the premier to be prosecuted for violating lockdown regulations, like other South Africans who had been caught not wearing a mask in public.
“We are not convinced about the developments that have taken place or for the premier to submit herself at the police station in Emalahleni. We want her to be subjected to the same process that ordinary citizens are subjected to,” Sedibe said.
“We have over 7000 ordinary citizens that have been arrested and convicted. Some paid fines and some were given the prison sentence.”
Any person who fails to comply with a verbal instruction by a law-enforcement officer to wear a mask in public commits a criminal offence, according to the adjusted alert level 3 lockdown regulations that were enforced in late December.
If convicted, they could be liable to pay a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.
Sedibe said the regulations were clear about the mandatory wearing of masks in public, and that there were no exemptions for public representatives. He said the EFF rejected her apology and excuse for not wearing her mask.
In her apology on Monday, the premier said she “should have known better as a public figure”, saying that she had bought 1000 masks that would be distributed in Emalahleni as part of public education and an awareness campaign to demonstrate the serious nature of Covid-19.
“She must stand in the dock, she must not go to the police station through the back door because she is a premier. She must stand in the dock before the magistrate and the prosecutor like all others, and plead guilty or not guilty and then the sanction must be issued there in public view,” Sedibe said.