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Photo: GCIS / Flickr

Mpumalanga premier now has a criminal record for mask mishap – Cele confirms

Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane – the Mpumalanga Premier – was caught without a mask at a funeral. She later claimed she did not notice.

trio crimes crime stats bheki cele

Photo: GCIS / Flickr

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has been making headlines in recent days for a serious breach of lockdown Level 3 regulations. She was essentially seen at the late Jackson Mthembu’s funeral without a face mask for quite a significant period of time and according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, the “slip” of the mask has resulted in a criminal record. 


Following the incident, many were concerned that the Mpumalanga premier was not receiving the same treatment as a regular citizen would have. People asked why she was not arrested and why there were no serious repercussions. Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba thus took to Twitter to set the record, (no pun intended),straight. 

“Cele explains that in the case of Mpumalanga Premier, she paid a J534 fine at a police station and was processed and her fingerprints were also taken as per the SA Police Service process. This fine is known as an admission of guilt and results in a criminal record,” said Themba. 

“When arrested for failing to wear a mask, you are taken to a police station and given an option to accept an admission of guilt J534 fine, this will result in a criminal record. Or you can appear before in court if you lose your case you get the same fate,” added Themba. 

On Wednesday morning, Cele had an interview with Sakina Kamwendo on SABC Morning Live and apart from the Mpumalanga premier, also confirmed that 13 600 people had been arrested for not wearing a mask and transgressing the adjusted Lockdown Level 3 regulations since 29 December 2020.


The Office of the Premier released a statement on Monday 25 January disclosing the steps that the Mpumalanga premier had taken in order to redeem herself so to speak. 

She said she deposited a statement of guilt at the Vosman Police Station in Emalahleni and accepted the necessary fine and decided to go into isolation for a period of 14 days.

“To further demonstrate my remorse, I have bought a 1000 masks that will be distributed in Emalahleni as part of [a] public education and awareness campaign to demonstrate the serious nature of COVID-19,” the Mpumalanga premier added. 

“I wish to take this opportunity once again to apologise to His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy President of the Republic Mr David Mabuza, the Mthembu family, the people of Mpumalanga and the rest of the country. I should have known better as a public figure and more so attending a COVID-19 funeral,” she said.