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COVID-19 relief looters to face the music, government vows

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Government has adopted zero tolerance on COVID-19 related corruption and has vowed to bring any lawbreakers to book.

At a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster briefing on Thursday, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said the cluster has received several corruption claims related to COVID-19 relief efforts earmarked for the poor.

“In response to these allegations, the cluster has developed a collaboration framework which will ensure prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and recovery of stolen assets and funds,” the Minister said at a media briefing, held as the country prepares to move to lockdown level 3.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the law enforcement officials have established an interim structure that will address all allegations of corruption.  

“We will ensure that those who are charged face prosecution,” she vowed.  

Some of the cases that will be prioritised and will be treated as a matter of urgency include sexual offences, gender-based violence and femicide, serious violent crimes such as robbery, murder, assault and violation of COVID-19 regulations for speedy resolutions.

“Where appropriate, the courts will use audio-visual communication such as teleconferencing and video conferencing to conclude urgent cases,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, non-urgent matters will be postponed, she said.

She said access to courts will be limited to immediate complainants and judiciary officers.

“All those entering premises will be subjected to screening and will be required to sanitise their hands and wear masks.”

Home Affairs matters 

Mapisa-Nqakula said any undocumented or illegal migrants detained will be subject to deportation.

“No visa or permitting functions will be open to the public in South Africa and at missions abroad in level 3.”

In addition, asylum and refugee services will remain closed.

“All asylum seeker permits lawfully issued, which have expired or are to expire during the period of the national state of disaster, are deemed to have been extended up to and including 31 July 2020.”

The Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said South Africans permitted to travel overseas include those who had secured jobs before the lockdown, students, those who have acquired a permanent residency, people who are going to re-join their families and those travelling for medical care.

“They’ve been given permission and have been leaving from last week,” he said.

He said there are 6 742 people who left since 20 May, of which 688 travelled by air, 6 051 by land and three by sea.

To read the full Disaster Management Act: Regulations: Alert level 3 during Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown click here. 

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