Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane was not wearing a mask during the funeral of the late Minister Jackson Mthembu. Picture: GCIS
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane was not wearing a mask during the funeral of the late Minister Jackson Mthembu. Picture: GCIS

Senior cop in hot water for failing to arrest unmasked premier at Jackson Mthembu’s funeral

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jan 28, 2021

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Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele wants action to be taken against a senior Mpumalanga officer who allegedly failed to arrest Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane on the spot for not wearing mask at the funeral of former minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu on Sunday.

While Cele insists on demanding a report about the officer’s alleged failure to execute an arrest on the Premier - he said the Mpumalanga Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mondli Zuma acted within the prescribed law under the adjusted lockdown level 3 to arrest Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane on Monday - a day after the transgression was committed in full view of the nation who watched the proceedings on national TV stations.

On Wednesday, Cele said General Zuma escorted Mtsweni-Tsipane to a local police station in Emalahleni where normal arrest procedures were conducted for her failure to wear a mask at a funeral.

Mthembu died of a Covid-19 related illness on Thursday last week. Cele was responding to allegations that the Premier was treated better than ordinary citizens.

“I have received a report from Commissioner Zuma. I am satisfied with the report. The commissioner escorted the premier to the police station where she was given a written notice to appear before a court.

“The premier opted to pay a fine. This was a magistrate’s sanctioned fine. The premier paid the fine and her fingerprints were taken. She created a criminal record for herself,” Cele said.

He was adamant that Mtsweni-Tsipane was treated “equally” like all South Africans who had contravened regulations to wear a mask.

“A total of 13 600 people have been arrested since December 28 when it became mandatory for people to wear a mask. The premier is among them. All of them were properly explained about their obligations to wear masks. Others who were arrested were allowed to go after managing to get a mask. It was a similar situation with the KwaMashu incident. A nearby hawker provided the gentleman with a mask and the police allowed him to go. It was a happy ending but the overenthusiastic social media users never bothered to post it,” Cele said

However, Cele said he is still waiting for a report on the failure of the senior officers who allegedly ignored her “constitutional obligation” to arrest the premier at the funeral.

According to Cele, the senior officer was supposed to execute an arrest while Mtsweni-Tsipane alighted from her official vehicle before addressing the mourners.

“I am waiting for a report from that commissioner about the police officer who did not perform her constitutionally obligated work at the funeral,” Cele insisted.

Political Bureau

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