Fines for breaking lockdown laws South Africa
A police roadblock on the N2 near Khayelitsha in the early part of SA's lockdown. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • South Africa’s magistrates’ districts have set the new standard admission of guilt fines associated with breaking adjusted Level 3 lockdown rules.
  • Several “no admission of guilt” or NAG offences – which require a mandatory court appearance – have also been listed.
  • Breaking curfew could result in a R3,000 fine, while failure to wear a mask in public could cost R1,500.
  • Fines may also be accompanied by a jail sentence, not exceeding six months, and criminal records could await those found guilty of flouting lockdown laws.
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Adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations have again outlawed alcohol, extended curfew, and made listening to law enforcement orders to put on a mask mandatory. Breaking any of these decrees could result in a fine or term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

Now magistrates' districts have specified just how much police should fine you for breaking those rules. While the rules are set on a national basis, under the powers of the Disaster Management Act, the fines are determined by each district. 

Districts can also specify which offences do not allow for an admission of guilt without a court appearance, with so-called NAG offences requiring suspects to plead either guilty or non-guilty – and at risk of a criminal record if ultimately found guilty.

“I am sure people are asking how much the fine will be,” said police minister Bheki Cele during a press briefing hosted by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Tuesday.

“We would have loved not to arrest you, we would like not to fine you, but if you avail yourself, we will take the opportunity of arresting you. We will… charge you and unfortunately, most of you are going to have criminal records.”

This warning was reiterated by the minister of justice and correctional services, Ronald Lamola.

Admission of guilt fines

An admission of guilt fine, issued for less serious offences directly by police, is intended to lighten to load on South Africa’s court system by mitigating the trial process. Suspects have the option to admit guilt and pay the pre-determined fine, thereby avoiding a trial. Alleged offenders can, however, refuse to admit guilt and opt to argue their case before a magistrate, with or without legal representation

Accepting an admission of guilt fine may result in a criminal record, although the reality differs between police stations.

These are the adjusted Level 3 lockdown fines in the Johannesburg district as of this week:

  • Breaking curfew, defined as the failure of a person to confine to his or her place of residence between 21:00 and 06:00 (unless permitted to do so as stipulated within the regulations): R3,000, or up to six months in jail if heard before a judge, or both.
  • Failure to wear a face mask in public, after being instructed to do so by an officer of the law: R1,500 or up to six months in jail if heard before a judge, or both.
  • Consumption of liquor in a public space: R1,500
  • Transporting liquor: R3,000

In Cape Town, the two new offences introduced for Level 3 have these fines set:

  • Failure to wear a mask in public: R1,000
  • Disobeying an order by a law enforcement official to wear a mask when in public: R1,000

The City of Tshwane’s chief magistrate has revealed harsher fines for adjusted Level 3 lockdown offenders:

  • Breaking curfew in Pretoria, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, Ekangala, Bronkhorstspruit, Cullinan, and Soshanguve will result in a R5,000 fine.
  • Similarly, selling and transporting of alcohol in the abovementioned subdistricts of Tshwane will result in a R5,000 fine.
  • The fine for failing to wear a face mask is R1,500.

Ladysmith’s magistrate court, in KwaZulu-Natal, lists lower amounts for adjusted Level 3 lockdown fines:

  • Breaking curfew: R1,500
  • Establishments which fail to close at 20:00: R3,000
  • Failure to wear a mask in public: R300
  • Sale, dispensing and distribution of liquor: R3,000
  • Consumption of liquor in public: R1,000
  • Transportation of liquor: R1,000

'No admission of guilt' offences, with a mandatory court appearance

These NAG offences are regarded as serious enough to require remand and bail proceedings.

  • Not wearing a face mask while using or operating any form of public transport (busses, taxis trains)
  • Not wearing a face mask when entering a public building used to obtain goods or services
  • Businesses which fail to comply with capacity limitations as defined by the Disaster Management Act
  • Performing, taking part in, or facilitating any initiation ceremony (except for those already underway in the Eastern Cape)
  • Hosting or attending a post-initiation ceremony
  • Busses and taxis which fail to comply with capacity limitations (more than 70% of licensed capacity for long distance travel, beyond 200km, constitutes an offence)
  • Selling, distributing, or dispensing of liquor (applicable to both on-site and off-site establishments)
  • Wineries who offer tasting and sales to the public

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