Government is warning South Africans against absconding the stringent measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19. Officials want the public to know that it’s a criminal offence to break any regulations and rules put in place under the disaster management act.
Defying these laws comes with a multitude of consequences from being arrested to fined and then landing up with a hard-to-shake criminal record.
Fines for breaking the rules could cost as much as R 5000 while refusing to self-isolate (once a person is diagnosed with the latest coronavirus) could carry a penalty of 10-years in prison. The latter, a law which was passed in 2017, allows provincial health departments to apply for a court order from SA’s High Court to intervene with people who have positive statuses and yet refuse to consent to official measures. The regulations relate to the surveillance and control of infectious diseases that enable the government to forcefully treat, isolate, and quarantine people in order to prevent mass transmission.
With regards to being fined for offences under the Disaster Management Act, the judiciary has issued a list of offences that carry admission of guilt fines of between R500 and R5 000. According to News24, these fines are issued annually in agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Some of the offences that will result in a R5 000 fine include:
- Unauthorised disclosure of information in the Covid-19 tracking database
- Failure to de-identify and destroy information on Covid-19 tracing database within six weeks after the state of disaster has ended
- Making intentional misrepresentations on any person infected with Covid-19
- Publishing any statement to deceive another person about Covid-19, to deceive any person about the Covid-19 infection status of another person, or to deceive any person about any measures taken by the government to address Covid-19
- Intentionally exposing another person to Covid-19
- Executing an eviction order
- Illegal gatherings in public places
- Selling, transporting, dispensing or distributing liquor
- Selling tobacco products
- Hindering, interfering with or obstructing law enforcement officers in the execution of their duties
Individuals can be fined up to R3 000 for failing to close a non-essential business and R2 000 for selling any non-essential goods – which you can find listed here.
Lesser fines for R1 000 will be issued for offences such as failure to confine yourself to your home and moving between provinces as well as not adhering to the curfew of 20:00 and 05:00 without a permit; and R500 for running, cycling, walking beyond 5km of your residence and outside the allocated hours of 06:00 and 09:00.