Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Are Africa’s penalties for Covid-19 violations harsh enough?

By Brenda Masilela Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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PRETORIA – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, over 4,4 million people have lost their lives, economies have been devastated, travel put at a halt, and borders have been closed all across the world.

In a bid to prevent the spread of the virus, countries all over the world have implemented lockdowns and gone as far as imposing fines and sentences on those who fail to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations.

As expected, some countries have extreme lockdown measures and others have been deliberate in their punishments of those who have violated Covid-19 rules.

On Thursday, a British man was sentenced to six weeks in a Singapore jail for not wearing a mask.

Recently in Maui, an Island in Hawaii, police arrested two United States visitors for violating travel quarantine rules, they were released on $2,000 each.

European countries are know for imposing exorbitant fines on those who are defiant of Covid-19 regulations.

In the United Kingdom, businesses and venues that breach the regulations may be subject to penalties of £1,000 ($1,364.24) or a fine in court of up to £10,000 ($13,642.35)

In Germany, people who fail to keep the minimum distance of 1.5 meters, and are spotted by police, are fined between €100 ($116.79) and €500 ($583.83 ) depending on the situation.

Going in public without masks can set one back between €50 ($58.39) and €500 ($583.83).

In January, the South African government has gazetted a list of penalties that will be imposed on those who breach Covid-19 rules.

Transgressing Covid-19 regulations such as transporting or selling alcohol without permission, can land you with a R20,000 ($1,314.29)fine.

Disclosing someone’s Covid-19 status without their permission could set you back by R3,000 ($197.17) and misrepresenting your Covid-19 status will cost you R2,000 ($131.44).

Not wearing a mask in public could earn you a fine or a six-month term in jail or both.

In Nigeria, a bus driver was fined N26,000 (US$63.14) for not complying with the physical and social distancing protocols.

This fine is a slap on the wrist compared to what other countries impose for Covid-19 offences.

After noticing that the government is lenient towards transgressors, local leaders in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, have resorted to holding mobile courts to deal with citizens who break Covid-19 regulations.

The mobile court fines locals for offences such as not wearing masks, failing to social distance or being in a gathering of more than 50 people.

Last year, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, invoked tough laws that led to numerous people being fined GH¢12,000 ($1,986.78) each, or faced four years in prison if they failed to make the payments after they were found to be in violation of the Covid-19 rules.

The country has continued to tighten some domestic restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but it’s still unclear on the forms of punishment it imposes on law breakers.

Like all countries, Kenya also has introduced stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Those found in breach of the measures could face a fine of Sh 20,000 ($182.63) or six months jail time.

It doesn’t seem like the fine and jail time have been well implemented in the Masai country.

Mzalendo, the parliamentary watchdog, reports that almost half of the people they have interviewed have been harassed, arrested or beaten up by police enforcing curfews and other measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

At the beginning of August, Rwanda police released a statement saying that 25 people were arrested for holding a house party in Kigali.

It is unclear whether those arrested will be fined and what jail time will they face if found guilty of breaking the law.

There have been several reports of Rwandan police arresting those who contravene the law, but it’s never mentioned how they will be punished.

As much as all countries have put measures in place to fight the spread of Covid-19, it’s clear that in Africa, imposing hefty fines will not be feasible because the continent is riddled with poverty and unemployment.

It’s unclear whether those who are arrested for Covid-19 violations server the prescribed sentence or the justice becomes lenient towards them.

ANA

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