Police Minister Bheki Cele said the South African Police Department has made more than 400,000 arrests due to the violation of Covid-19 regulations.
Responding to a recent EFF parliamentary written question and answer period, Cele said a total of 411,309 people had been arrested for violating regulations from the start of the lockdown in late March 2020 until the end of February 2021.
South Africa first introduced its disaster management regulations on March 28, 2020, the police minister said.
Earlier data released by the Justice Department shows that most South Africans have been stopped for breaking assembly rules and breaking the evening curfew.
The South African Police Service can give an arrested person suspected of a less serious crime the opportunity to pay a fine for admission of guilt.
Such a fine allows a person to admit guilt for a less serious offense without having to appear in court, thus avoiding unnecessary overloading of the justice system.
It also aims to resolve less serious issues quickly, when an accused accepts responsibility for committing a minor offense. However, an admission of guilt is accompanied by a criminal record.
For this reason, jurists have warned against the payment of a fine of conviction because it means that South Africans could receive a criminal record.
“In my opinion, you are certainly not signing an admission of guilt form. Even if you have been taken to the police station and processed, the document will also have a date for you to appear in court, ”defense attorney William Booth said in an interview in January.
“You have a number of options – in my opinion you immediately approach a lawyer. This lawyer can make representations to the attorney general of the magistrates court where you must appear.
“If you have a good record and your personal situation is important enough, you can have your charges dropped.”
The Department of Justice and Corrections has recognized the problems with the current system and is currently working on new legislation that will stop the admission of guilty fines attracting criminal records in South Africa.
In May 2020, Deputy Minister John Jefferies stated that the publish of admitting guilty fines and criminal records had been on the government’s radar outside of the current coronavirus pandemic.
“This is something we wanted to address and it is something that will be (included) in a future bill on judicial matters,” he said. “The idea will be that most admissions of guilty fines will not result in a criminal record.
“Sometimes due process is not followed properly and sometimes people are pressured to pay the fine and not realize that they are going to get a record and affect their rights.”
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