Contravening of the lockdown regulations due to corona virus may result in many people finding themselves head on with the law, this piece of writing explores the pit falls and legally sound options for all.
“All man have crimes, and most of them are hidden”
“Show me the man and I will find you the crime”
These quotes have at least some truth in them, everyone of us can find themselves head on with the law.
At times, you do find people who intentionally commit crimes – but for others, it does happen that due to unfortunate time, unexpected events befall us all. The reality is that nobody knows when it will happen, but we all know it can, just as “fish are caught by the evil net and birds are caught in a trap, so the sons of men are ensnared in a time of disaster”.
For many of us, that disaster sounds very much like the ensuing corona virus pandemic, to make things somewhat unmanageable, we are weekly riddled with ever changing regulations– as a result, this week, one thing is lawful, tomorrow it is illegal. The purpose of this article is to highlight the current offences created in terms of the Disaster Management Act, what burden they may have on a persons criminal record and how we as experts in criminal law can help you and champion your rights.
The current regulations are intended with an important purpose, to keep everyone safe.
General movement is prohibited and only limited to necessary movements relating to performing essential services, getting essential supplies, attending to ones health or finances and others. With the relative ease of the lockdown, some time has been allocated for the very much needed physical exercise, noteworthy is the fact that a curfew is also nationally imposed.
In terms of the regulations, failure to comply with prohibition of movement and other activities is a criminal offence: inter provincial, metropolitan and district movements are prohibited and may attract a fine to the amount of R2 500. Failure to confine to ones place of residence may cost you R1 000, same amount is charged for wondering about past the curfew time. On the other hand, walking or exercising before or after the allocated time and outside the 5 km radius is R500. One issue is that people are struggling to pay their monthly rental, but then evictions are prohibited with the fine amounting to R5 000, the same amount is sanctioned against persons interfering with the officials doing their duties under the Disaster Management Act,such interference may be when your are stopped at a roadblock or for routine check or any other reason, and instead of complying, you try to drive away, start unnecessary argument and so on, by doing so you will be increasing your chances of being arrested.
Breaking of lockdown regulations and simply getting a fine has a substantial bearing on an individual, moreover, some offences do not have an option for guilt fine. To drive the point home, having a criminal record is a serious issue, it will adversely affect their possible visa and immigration application and may ruin their future prospects of possible employment– something worthy to be given a second thought given the economic status of our beloved country.
A criminal record will last for 10 years, or a person will have to go to court to expunge it if they have valid reasons as to why they broke the law. This is generally a strenuous and expensive route.
The good thing is that, constitutionally, everyone is entitled to have their day in court, as such, all lockdown offences may be taken to court, where in front of a judge you as an accused person will have an opportunity to give reasons and justifications as to why you broke the law; a judge can then sentence you to a fine, put you in jail for any period between 1 – 6 months, or if your reasons are valid enough, you may be let off– free of criminal record.
I trust that by now, you acknowledge the depth and seriousness of committing a crime, any crime for that matter. As recommendation, should you be arrested, accused for having committed a crime, seek legal advise. Paying an admission of guilt fine is not a better nor smart option given the implications it has. It is rather best that when you are arrested, let us as criminal law experts help you get bail and secure your day in court were we will argue tirelessly to secure your freedom and save you from the stain of a criminal record.
Even though you may one day find yourself head on with the law, rest assured that calling on us to help you fight for your freedom ‘is not a crime’.
- Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002.
- Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.