Jackson Mthembu in Mtubatuba
One of the photos posted to Twitter by cabinet minister Jackson Mthembu.
  • Cabinet minister, and ANC NEC member, Jackson Mthembu on Sunday posted photos of his visit to a church in Mtubatuba for a political event.
  • Mthembu is shown addressing a group of at least 45 people without a mask.
  • The photos show three different rules on social distancing for places of worship being broken as Mthembu speaks, and strongly implies at least one more rule being flouted.
  • In April Mthembu temporarily took over the duties of his cabinet colleague Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams after she was placed on special leave for breaking lockdown rules.
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Minister in the Presidency and ANC national executive member Jackson Mthembu on Sunday posted photos that show at least three different lockdown rules being broken as he addressed a church in Mtubatuba.

Mthembu was at the church for a political event.

"Today we visited the Pentecostal Church in Mtubatuba. We introduced our ward candidate, comrade Njabulo Thusi, for the November by-elections. Victory is certain #voteANC," he said in a tweet, attaching four photos of his address.

The photos show Mthembu speaking without a mask, even though he is using a microphone, while churchgoers sit packed close together just in front of him.

The photos appear to show only a part of the church hall, but at least 45 people can be seen. That is well below the limit for religious gatherings – but churches are required to admit only as many people as take up 50% of the available floor space.

While it is not clear if that rule was technically adhered to, three others are clearly being broken.

  • Places of worship are required to make sure that attendees are never less than 1.5 metres away from one another
  • When everyone is not in a face mask – which is allowed only when "an activity, such as preaching or leading worship cannot be performed with face masks" – that distance must be increased to 2.5 metres.
  • Seating arrangements must be such that these rules are enforced, such as by removing some what appears to be easily-moved chairs in the Mtubatuba church.

The rules apply not only to religious gatherings, but to people who enter a place of worship, for instance for a political event.

In April this year Mthembu became the acting minister of communications after his cabinet colleague, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, was placed on special leave. She had broken lockdown regulations.

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