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Somizi charged and released on R1 500 bail over Fikile Mbalula lockdown case

Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung. Picture: Instagram

Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung. Picture: Instagram

Published Apr 14, 2020

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Media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung was arrested and granted bail over the weekend after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula laid a charge against him.

On Friday, the minister opened a case against the "Idols SA" judge at the Sandton police station on a charge of breaching disaster-management regulations related to "information dissemination and misinformation".

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Mere hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown would be extended until the end of April, Mhlongo-Motaung had asserted in an Instagram Live that Mbalula had given him a heads-up about the extension. 

The comments by Mhlongo-Motaung were made at the Metro FM studios where he co-hosts a show with Dineo Ranaka, who is seen in the video, and Lerato Kganyago. 

Mhlongo-Motaung later apologised to Mbalula for his “joke”. He posted a video on Instagram in which he said, “I'm just like you, I did not know about it. I was just guessing. I would like to apologise to the honourable minister for making a joke like that. It was just a joke, a bad joke”

In a statement Mbalula said that although he had noted Mhlongo-Motaung's apology, he did not view his utterances as a mere joke. 

"The country is going through a serious disaster management period and any misinformation, irregular or unauthorized information being published is both unlawful and not assisting in our cause to manage public affairs correctly". 

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo that Mhlongo-Motaung turned himself in to the Sandton police station at the weekend.

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"He was charged and released on R1,500 bail, and is expected to make a court appearance on 3 July", Naidoo said. 

Mbalula confirmed on his Twitter page that Mhlongo-Motaung had been arrested.

Esethu Hasane, spokesperson for the minister said that they would not comment further about the matter.

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