Correctional Services has suspended visits to offenders for a period of 30 days to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Correctional Services has suspended visits to offenders for a period of 30 days to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Coronavirus in SA: Court attendance and prison visits to be limited - Lamola

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Mar 20, 2020

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Johannesburg - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said to ensure compliance with new regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19, only a limited number of people would be allowed into the country's courts.

Lamola said visits to correctional services facilities were also barred and would be reviewed in April.

Lamola and Police Minister Bheki Cele held a joint media briefing on Friday to outline the justice clusters measures of curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The country has recorded a total of 202 cases as of Friday, with the majority of affected patients being in Gauteng.

SA INFECTIONS - 202

Gauteng - 109

Western Cape - 56

KZN -  24 

Free State - 7

Mpumalanga - 5

Limpopo - 1

The ministers' guidelines fall with wide-ranging regulations that were gazetted by the government on Wednesday following President Cyril Ramaphosa's declaration of national disaster to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cele clarified that barring of the sale of alcohol meant restaurants that served alcohol would be barred from doing so after 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays and from 1pm on Sunday and public holidays (this includes tomorrow, Human Rights Day. 

He said restaurants could still remain open after 6pm but were not allowed to sell alcohol beyond the time. These rules also apply to taverns, shebeens and night clubs.

The regulations effectively mean it is illegal to sell alcohol after 6pm on weekdays (or 1pm on Sundays) anywhere within the borders of South Africa during the national state of disaster period.

The minister said public gatherings such as weddings, parties, funerals and church services should be kept at a limit of 100. He said there would be no exceptions for this. Cele said the police would be monitoring adherence to this regulation as spotters have been appointed.

He said the police would not arrest people who were gathered in a group of more than a 100, but the person hosting the event or gathering would be arrested. Everyone else would be asked to leave the gathering.

Cele also stressed that citizens who visit the country's police stations can expect to be protected as hand sanitizers and gloves would be used by officials. He asked that the public minimize visits to police stations for no-essential activities if possible.  

"The job of the police is to enforce the law. So we are doing what has been instructed by the constitution. There are systems in the SAPS that deals with police that break the law," Cele explained.

Lamola said: "The state of the national disaster means that certain rights will be limited, this limitation is provided for in the constitution. We are using a variety of regulations that relate to sport and health regulations". 

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