Level 4: Jail for going to church, or a sit-down restaurant

Business Insider SA
Virus lockdown
  • Level 4 comes with new criminal offences around gatherings.
  • Anyone who organises a gathering, at a church or political rally – faces up to six months in jail.
  • So do attendees who should have known better.
  • Inciting, or convincing, people to break regulations – such as by gathering – also comes with the potential for jail.
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As of Monday, you can go to jail for organising a gathering in South Africa – or for attending one.

Under Alert Level 4 regulations published on Monday morning, and immediately in force, a number of new criminal offences have been added to lockdown rules.

Failing to wear a mask in public continues to be an offence, and business owners who don't enforce social-distancing rules could still go to jail. But the new rule that bans leisure travel into and out of Gauteng also comes with up to six months in jail.

Another provision deals with convincing other people to break the rules, including those on gatherings. Anyone who "incites, instigates, commands, or procures" anyone to break another rule considered an offence will themselves be liable to criminal prosecution, under the update.

See also | You can go to jail for visiting Gauteng, unless you’re there for these reasons

That will include going to a restaurant and sitting down. Under new regulations around gatherings, business owners may not offer food or non-alcoholic drinks for consumption on their premises, but they won't be the only ones facing prosecution. Anyone who sits down for a restaurant meal "who knows or ought to have known or suspected" they were prohibited from doing so, may also go to jail.

The same approach is followed when it comes to sport, and church. The owner or operator of a facility where sporting matches (which are allowed, including non-professional matches) take place, and who allow visitors, are liable for jail or a fine. So is "any person who, as a spectator, attends a sporting facility" when any match is underway.

See also | Adjusted lockdown level 4: What will now be allowed

For social, cultural, political, or religious gatherings the liability is for a "convener", rather than the person who controls a venue. Until at least 11 July, the date on which Level 4 is due to be reviewed, those convenors could go to jail. So could those who attend church or a rally.

"Any person who attends a faith based, religious, social, political or cultural gathering and who knows and ought reasonably to have known or suspected that is is prohibited, commits an offence," read the new rules.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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