[imagesource: Allan Swart/123RF]
South Africans are still required to wear a mask in public, as well as adhering to other lockdown restrictions, and failing to do so can result in a fine.
Judging by what I’ve seen over the past few months, you have to be pretty unlucky to be pinged for that, but there was a time last year when fines, and arrests, were pretty commonplace.
So you get picked up by the police, you pay your fine, and you’re on your way – no bother, right?
Wrong, because doing so can result in you getting a criminal record, which is something many South Africans are finding out the hard way.
We’ve repeatedly heard stories about how our government is considering expunging the criminal records of people who have violated lockdown regulations, but that has yet to happen.
Carte Blanche is on the case, as per a segment from this past Sunday:
…we revisit the dilemma of at least 400,000 South Africans arrested for offences ranging from not wearing masks to allegedly breaking curfew. Many spent time behind bars or paid hefty fines of up to R5000, and several, still, were let go with the option of signing an admission of guilt.
At the time, it helped them not spend time in police custody.
But in the long run, it’s saddled them with criminal records that are hampering life as they know it – with no indication from government on whether these might be expunged after the pandemic.
A report from January quotes deputy justice minister John Jeffries as saying that whilst the end goal is to expunge those criminal records, doing so now would jeopardise measures currently in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
That will come as scant consolation to the people featured below, for whom time is very much of the essence:
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