AfriForum demands clarity regarding promised amnesty for those with criminal records for lockdown transgressions

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today sent a letter to Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, demanding clarity about government’s plans to provide amnesty to citizens found guilty of transgressing lockdown regulations during the national state of disaster for Covid-19.

“AfriForum has received several complaints from people who are now negatively affected by a criminal record because they did not obey the often-ridiculous lockdown regulations. Remember that there was even a young father who got arrested for buying formula milk for his infant. Government has hinted in the past that these records will be expunged and we want to know when this is going to happen,” says Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s spokesperson for Community Safety.

Tens of thousands of South Africans are sitting with criminal records after the state of disaster ended. The South African Police Service said in 2022 that more than 400 000 people were arrested for violating regulations during the first year of lockdown. While some received warnings, those who paid an admission of guilt fine have criminal records that could stand in the way of them getting employment or travelling overseas.

In its letter AfriForum specifically asks whether the Minister is aware of any steps being taken by the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to provide a form of amnesty and/or expungement process for South Africans who violated Covid-19 lockdown regulations through legislation. Or, whether the Minister is currently considering taking any steps to propose legislation or enact regulations to provide a form of amnesty and expungement process for South Africans who violated Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

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