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 refuse isolation once a person is diagnosed with the latest coronavirus and could carry a penalty of 10-years in prison.
This law, which was passed in 2017, allows provincial health departments to apply for a court order from SA’s High Court for people with positive statuses who refuse to consent to official measures.
The regulations relate to the surveillance and control of infectious diseases that enable the government to treat, isolate, and quarantine people in order to prevent mass transmission.
If you refuse to obey any of the guidelines, it’s a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted and imprisoned for 10 years.” – Professor Pierre de Vos, Constitutional Law Expert
This public warning comes shortly after a family in Gauteng intentionally fled from health authorities when two of the family members tested positive for the virus. One member even refused to be tested at all. The government went to court to force the family into quarantine once they were located.
While the law does account for a patient’s constitutional rights such as the full respect for the dignity, confidentiality, and fundamental freedoms of persons, these regulations must be balanced with the responsibility not to expose the public to serious health risks.