Read These Lockdown Regulations Before Leaving Your House

On the 26th of March 2020, South Africa went into a three-week nationwide coronavirus lockdown. You are not alone if you have felt that these restrictions were downright draconian. Many complained about the bans on alcohol sales, jogging in public, and dog-walking among other things.

However, following regular announcements from government officials, we’ve seen the gradual rollback of lockdown. As of 1 June, we find ourselves in level three. That said, there are still several restrictions in place. And South Africans, who break these lockdown laws, face some expensive consequences. You could be arrested and liable for fines of up to R5,000. In this article, we unpack the legal implications of violating level 3 lockdown restrictions.

You Can Expect Fines Of Up To R5000 For Breaking Lockdown Rules

The South African Judiciary issues a list of offences under the Disaster Management Act that carry admission of guilt fines. These fines can range from R500 to R5,000.

According to judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube, the chief magistrate determines fines annually. However, more people have been getting interested in the fines, since lockdown regulations came into effect. “In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, these fines are issued every year in agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA),” Mncube stated.

It’s safe to say that breaking the lockdown rules right now isn’t worth the trouble. More worrying than the hefty R5,000 fine is the possible mark on your criminal record. Here is a list of charges and lockdown fines you face should you break the regulations:

  • Going to work without a permit – R500
  • Intentionally exposing another person to COVID-19 – R5,000
  • Publishing any statement to deceive any other person about measures taken by the government to address Covid-19 – R2,000.
  • Gathering illegally – R3,000
  • Failing to follow the prohibition of movement between metropolitan and district areas – R1,000
  • Failing to follow the prohibition of movement between provinces – R1,000.

South Africa’s Lockdown Laws

A recent webinar held by Schindlers Attorneys, which was summarised by ward councillor Tim Truluck, revealed that there are new COVID-19 offences. Some of these offenses come with an admission of guilt fines. Depending on the severity of the offence, you can pay the fine at the police station or court. Bear in mind that either of these options will result in a criminal record.

A first-time offence earns you a fine. However, there is no admission of guilt fine option in the case of a second- or third-time offence. You would go to court, where you may speak to the prosecutor and potentially pay an admission of guilt fine there. You may not appear in front of a magistrate, but you will get a previous conviction since your fingerprints will be taken. All offences may be taken to court where a judge can sentence you with a fine or put you in jail for one to six months.

This will result in a criminal record for the next 10 years. If you have a criminal record, you must declare it in a job application as well as immigration and visa applications. However, you do have the option of going to court to apply to have it removed. This means you can rebut the court’s decision provided you can give valid reasons on why you broke the law in the first place.

What Happens If You’re Pulled Over By The Police?

Remember that police officers may question you, if they pull you over. The officers may let you go if they believe the reasons you provide them with. If not, you are liable for arrest and suffer a stay at a police station. If you find yourself in said situation and have legal cover, the first call you make must be to your lawyer to get the best legal advice in a pinch. 

You can always avoid all this by adhering to the lockdown regulations and staying at home. Only leave your home to buying essential items or seek medical treatment. Be courteous when stopped by law enforcement and be ready to explain where you are going and what you are doing.

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