Maskless Mpumalanga premier pays fine, vows to create awareness campaign

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane did not wear a mask while attending Jackson Mthembu's funeral in Mpumalanga on Sunday.

Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane delivers the welcoming remarks during Jackson Mthembu's funeral on Sunday, 24 January 2021. Picture: @GovernmentZA on Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane may have been slapped with a fine for her disregard of the country’s COVID-19 rules, but she on Monday promised to turn this into a “public education and awareness campaign”.

Mtsweni-Tsipane did not wear a mask while attending the funeral of African National Congress senior leader Jackson Mthembu in Mpumalanga on Sunday.

The late minister in the presidency died of COVID-19-related complications last week.

It was only after images of her illegal actions were displayed on television and social media that she apologised.

The images splashed on television and social media drew the ire of South Africans at the weekend.

What seemed like a half-hearted explanation by the premier’s office did not help matters and the incident was dealt with at a higher level.

Police Minister Bheki Cele ordered an investigation and stressed that the wearing of masks was non-negotiable.

Mtsweni-Tsipane has since paid a fine for what she said was a momentary lapse.

She on Monday claimed to have bought 1,000 masks that would be distributed in Emalahleni to educate the public about the serious nature of COVID-19.

But those who have been calling for a harsher sanction may have a hard time believing the sincerity of the premier’s apology.

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