It has come to our attention that members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) have been arresting people for not wearing face masks when driving in their vehicles, whilst exercising or just generally.
While it is true that the current level 4 lockdown regulations, as published on the 29th of April 2020, do require that a mask be worn in public, the regulations do not impose a sanction such as a fine or prison sentence for not complying with this provision of the regulations. Not wearing a mask in public is not a criminal offence.
We have had sight of a document that is being circulated by the Limpopo SAPS, amongst its members, which in our opinion correctly sets out the legal position, in that failure to comply with certain of the regulations (including the issue of the wearing of masks) is not an offence and therefore no one can be arrested or fined for not complying.
Kindly see our website for the aforementioned SAPS document. We further urge everyone to print and keep this document with them to show to the SAPS, should they wish to arrest them, that not wearing a mask is not a criminal offence. Importantly the letter identifies the fact that SAPS members that act in contravention of the directions and arrest people for not wearing a mask risk personal liability.
We furthermore recommend that no one pay an admission of guilt fine, issued in terms of the regulations, until they have consulted with an attorney, as such admission will result in a criminal record against their names.