In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act an offence is stated as an act that is punishable by law.
The Minister of Justice stated that not wearing a mask is a criminal offence in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
The onus however does not rest on individuals to wear a mask in public although it is recommended. The onus rests on people in a management positions to ensure that everyone that enters their premises wears a mask.
The only people at this moment who can be prosecuted for the crime of not wearing a mask or not enforcing the regulation of wearing a mask is business managers and all other people who operates some sort of operation that allows people of the public access.
No individual acting on its own can, at this time, be charged for a criminal offence for the failure to wear a mask as stated by the Minister of Justice but can only be denied access to certain access points.
However if you find yourself in a position of authority and operate a business where members of public are allowed you should consider it wisely to regulate all individuals that are within your control and enforce the rule of wearing a mask. The reason the Minister of Justice has placed the onus on people of authority to enforce the rule of wearing a mask is because in most cases they are responsible for the health of the people under their control and on their premises. They can control the people that are entering their premises by denying them access.
The Minister of Justice however indicated that if individuals do not wear a mask and disobey their recommendations then the government will start to consider prosecuting individuals for not wearing a mask. In this uncertain time however one should have a close look at what the Disaster and Management act states because regulations are amended by each level. In the latest amendment of the 12 of July 2020, regulations state that the wearing of a mask, cloth or any other item that can cover the mouth and nose is mandatory for each individual that finds himself in a public space, but it does not state whether one could be charged criminally for not wearing one.
A person will also not be allowed to enter public transport, premises or public space without a mask. The amended regulation (Sub Regulation 2 of the Disaster Management Act) clearly indicates that the person who will be in control of the public transport (taxi) or business manager or any other premises should deny access to a person who is not covering his nose and mouth with an appropriate item.
Only the person operating the premises or transport can be criminally charged for being negligent and not the individual who enters without a mask or piece of cloth covering his nose and mouth.
If you have any uncertainty in this regard, you are more than welcome to contact our offices on our emergency number.