Lamola warns that criminalising non-mask compliance for individuals on agenda

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said that service providers and store owners would be held criminally liable if customers did not wear masks.

FILE: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola at an inter-ministerial briefing on the coronavirus in Pretoria on 13 March 2020. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN – Service providers and store owners will be held criminally liable if customers don't wear masks.

Under revised lockdown regulations it's now mandatory to wear a mask in public.

However, it's not yet a criminal offence for individuals.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has warned that there will be consequences if entities were prosecuted for non-compliance around mask-wearing.

“You will get a criminal record. Even if you are not sentenced to imprisonment and it’s only a fine; even if the magistrate decides the offence and the sentence must carry on it’s own a fine, it will be a criminal record.”

He has that clarified the onus fell on service providers or compliance officers to ensure that people adhered to the rules.

"The responsibility is on the compliance officers, the taxi driver or a person who is running a retail shop or a government building of any facility where people can gather. That is the person whom the responsibility that no one comes into that building without a mask, [that] is the one that will be prosecuted."

Lamola warned that criminalising non-mask compliance by individuals remained on the agenda.

“When we started with the Disaster Management Act it was to encourage members of the public to wear masks because goverment didn’t want to from the onset criminalise not wearing masks. Now it is the second stage where the responsibility is with the compliance officers; the third stage, if there is still non-compliance, will be the one of the general public.”

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