South Africa’s prisons were ready to welcome those convicted for failing to wear masks as part of the country’s stricter measures required to control the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, said on Wednesday.Under the new lockdown regulations that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Monday night, anyone caught without wearing a mask in public would face a hefty fine or six months imprisonment — or both, the president said.
“The Correctional Services, as the last line in the justice system, will have to really make space in terms of accommodating those people (convicted for not wearing masks),” Nxumalo said.
“You have got to take it seriously that a mask is one of those things that will assist us in managing the virus spread. Unfortunately, people who don’t abide by these regulations, they will have to be dealt with,” he said.
Meanwhile, some 8,462 prisoners and guards have tested positive for the virus, and 153 of them have died in the country, the official said.
On his part, Police Minister Bheki Cele urged his police officers not to be too heavy-handed when reinforcing the stricter Level 3 lockdown restrictions.
However, Cele reiterated that if the cop’s lives were under threat, they were on the right side of the law to use force.
“It is not in the Constitution to be brutal. So, you don’t have to be brutal. But, then again, it’s not in the Constitution to let criminals get away, either,” the outspoken minister said.NM/APA