Andrew Mlangeni mourners may be charged for breaking lockdown regulations

29 July 2020 - Andrew Mlangeni's casket arrives at the Roodepoort cemetery, escorted by members of the SANDF | Image: Supplied (GCIS)

The ANC says residents of Dube in Soweto ‘spontaneously’ came out in numbers on Tuesday, when Mlangeni’s body arrived at his home.

Police will probe a case of contravention of the Disaster Management Act at ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni’s home when his body arrived on Tuesday – ahead of his funeral. This after the event outside Mlangeni’s home sparked criticism and debate, as crowds were seen surrounding the coffin, with no physical distancing adhered to.

In statement on Wednesday evening, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said events outside the Mlangeni home had come to the attention of the Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure.

“The regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 makes provision for the dispersing of crowds who gather illegally and to hold accountable a person or persons who convenes or organises illegal gatherings.

“Therefore, with regards to this matter in question, a case of contravention of Section 48 (1)(a) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 will be opened for investigation,” Naidoo said.

He said, upon completion of the investigation, a docket would be submitted to the Directorate for Public Prosecution for a decision.

Also read: ‘Smoking’, ‘lack of social distancing’ at Mlangeni’s funeral causes uproar on Twitter

The ANC, which organised the event, has come out defending the activity, saying they had planned sufficiently for the arrival of the remains. Mlangeni, 95, was laid to rest on Wednesday during a special official funeral, where President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy.

The party said residents of Dube in Soweto had “spontaneously” come out in numbers on Tuesday, when Mlangeni’s body arrived at his home.

Speaking on eNCA on Wednesday afternoon, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said a selection of the party’s NEC members had gone to the home. He said people had already lined the streets when the body was being carried into the house.

“The was an act of spontaneity on the part of the part of the people of Soweto.

“Even before we could even drive to his street, residents had gone out in Soweto. They had already lined up on various streets,” Mabe said. Mlangeni’s body was ushered inside his home for by members of uMkhonto weSizwe and the governing party, ANC.

Images of people in attendance at the house were circulated online, resulting in South Africans questioning whether gatherings of such a large number of people was permitted during a lockdown, while others argued that there seemed to be no physical distancing. Others complained that other citizens were not afforded opportunities to send off their loved ones in such a manner.

Also read: Thabo Mbeki: Mlangeni had ‘very good cause’ to be concerned about ANC

Mabe said the party had arranged marshals to control the proceedings. “As soon as we told them that ‘guys, this is really going against the very regulations that we are supposed to be seen upholding’, they allowed a limited number of comrades to take the body into the family house,” he said.

He added: “The ANC is not responsible to control people where they live. The ANC has picked up challenges, it means that going forward, we ought to say what are the lessons.”Earlier Police Minister Bheki Cele’s office said it discouraged people who “deliberately” flouted Covid-19 regulations.

In a response to a question of rule of law and whether it applied only to some South Africans and not others, the police ministry’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba told News24 that Cele had no comment at this point. She added: “But [it is] safe to say the ministry discourages anyone who deliberately flouts regulations and the law is clear on what happens to those who flout any of the regulations”.

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