State declines to prosecute Durban jogger arrested for not wearing a mask
Durban - THE Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in KwaZulu- Natal has declined to prosecute the Durban jogger who was arrested and fined for not wearing a mask in public.
Avoca resident Asheel Sewsanker, 25, maintained that he was arrested unlawfully and paid a fine of R1 000 for not wearing a mask in public.
Sewsanker was returning home from his morning jog when he was arrested, near his driveway, by four Greenwood Park police officers last week.
Sewsanker claimed the police searched him, put him into the back of a police van and ignored his plea to inform his parents. His fingerprints were taken and he was put into a holding cell briefly.
His father Vishal Sewsankar panicked when his son did not return home from his jog.
He rallied together a search party and found his son at Greenwood Park police station where he learnt that his son was being detained.
Sewsankar made representations to the DPP’s office regarding the Covid regulations.
The adjusted alert level 3 regulations, according to the Disaster Management Act (DMA) during the Covid-19 lockdown, stipulate that it is mandatory to wear a mask or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth while in a public space.
However, a sub-regulation stipulates that it shall not apply to a person who undertakes vigorous exercise in a public place, provided that the person maintains a distance of at least one-and-a-half metres from any other person, and subject to directions on what was considered to be vigorous.
According to a letter sent to the family, the chief public prosecutor in the Durban cluster, Advocate G Naidoo, declined to prosecute the matter.
Naidoo wrote: “You are informed that the admission of guilt has been set aside by the chief magistrate and this must be refunded to you. There will be no previous conviction recorded against your name. Please liaise with the investigating officer to ensure that your criminal record is clear.”
Sewsanker, a sales assistant, is waiting for his record to be expunged.
“I acted within the law and followed the rules. The police did not. Despite people’s opinions, the law is clear, and we have proven that I did nothing wrong. The police acted without a duty of care, unlawfully and endangered my life. They owe me an apology for the trauma and distress they caused,” Sewsankar said.
In KwaZulu-Natal, between December 29, 2020, and February 21, 2021, the police arrested 14 653 people for various contraventions of the Level 3 lockdown regulations. They also arrested 10 701 people for not wearing masks in public.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said wearing a mask in public was mandatory.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said she was still awaiting feedback from her management before commenting.