Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has has made a statement of guilt at a police station in Emalahleni and has also accepted a fine after she came under heavy scrutiny for not wearing a mask during the funeral of Minister Jackson Mthembu on Sunday 24 January. 

Mtsweni-Tspiane said that she had made an unfortunate error in failing to wear her mask, and that she had not realised that she wasn’t wearing it. This excuse hardly softened widespread calls for the Premier to be severely punished in line with Disaster Management laws and hand in her resignation. 

Mpumalanga Premier regrets ‘disrespecting Mthembu family’  

In the statement, Mtsweti-Tsipane voiced her regret at her ill-advised and illegal behaviour, saying that she had never intended to break the law but was deeply regretful over her actions. 

“I was irresponsible at the funeral of my late colleague. I didn’t in any way mean to break the law. I willingly surrender myself to the fine laid out by our respected President and will also donate masks within the community to highlight its importance. My sincerest regrets,” she said. 

She said that her actions had disrespected the family of her fallen comrade, Jackson Mthembu, who passed away last week after succumbing in his fight against the virus. 

“I should have known better as a public figure and more so attending a COVID-19 funeral. To this effect I have deposited a statement of guilt at the Vosman Police Station in Emalahleni where I accepted the necessary fine. I have also written a letter to the President of the Republic expressing my regret of the situation,” she said. 

She has additionally taken it upon herself to go into a period of isolation for 14 days. 

Cele probed misconduct  

The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, called for her actions to be investigated on Sunday. 

“If South Africa wants to beat this invisible enemy which is COVID-19, we simply can’t let our guard down,” he said in a statement

“This is why I have spoken to the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole to look into the matter of the Premier and an investigation must be conducted and necessary action must be taken.”

“Any person who fails to comply with a verbal instruction by a law enforcement officer, to wear a mask, commits an offence, and is, upon conviction, liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment, not exceeding six months or both.” 

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Presh JM Reporter

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