The South African government has announced new regulations extending the government’s powers under the state of disaster. These include the ability to prosecute anyone spreading false information about the coronavirus in the country.
Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed the new regulations on Wednesday 18 March, making them applicable with immediate effect.
The new regulation states that: “Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about—(a) COVID-19; (b) COVID-19 infection status of any person; or (c) any measure taken by the Government to address COVID-19, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.”
This is a serious step up as fake news regarding cures for the virus, the number of cases and the government’s handling of the situation have already been circulating.
In addition to this regulation the government have also implemented strict measures for bars, taverns and hotels which can now only serve up to 50 customers before 6pm and after 9am.
The government has also extended its powers to detain people who refuse to be tested, quarantined and those who are found to deliberately infect others.