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

Image: Screenshot - Twitter / @HermanMashaba

Three men, who seem to be part of the SANDF, were smoking cigarettes despite the ban before the funeral service.

Many Twitter users including notable politicians like Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba reacted to members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) having a relaxed cigarette smoking session before the last Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni’s funeral service on Wednesday, 29 July.

The reactions comes in light of the ban on the sales and distribution of cigarettes and tobacco related products.

The screenshot circulating on the social media platform shows three men, who seem to be part of the SANDF, smoking cigarettes despite the ban on sales.

Many South Africans have been calling for government to unban the selling of cigarettes for quite some time now.

READ MORE: WATCH: More support for Smokers United SA’s second protest

Mashaba, who is the leader of the People’s Dialogue and former mayor of Johannesburg, expressed his outrage on the matter, calling them “hypocrites”.

“Didn’t General Bheki Cele say that anyone caught smoking in public would have to produce the receipt to prove they bought it before lockdown? Bloody hypocrites!” he said.

During the beginning of lockdown SANDF and the South African Police Service (SAPS) were seen making arrests due to citizens contravening the Disaster Management Act that was put in place to regulate people’s movement amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The arrests included acts of selling illicit cigarettes, the transportation of alcohol and being outside without a permit.

Mashaba continued to quote Cele’s words on being caught smoking in public and further called for action to be taken.

“If you are caught smoking in public, or even in your car, you will have to produce a receipt to prove that you purchased your cigarettes legally” – Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.

“We await concomitant action, Minister. Or are some more equal than others?” he asked.

Maimane, the leader of the One South Africa Movement (Ousa), seemed to question where the SANDF got their supply of cigarettes.

“So these comrades just had a lifetime supply of cigarettes…” he said.

Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Solly Malatsi also weighed in on the matter.

“When government leaders are openly violating the COovid-19 regulations, civil servants express their defiance through acts like this.

“Civilians are expected to be law abiding at all times while the lawmakers and enforcers are wilding. This is Animal Farm!” he exclaimed.

Meanwhile on Friday, 24 July, the Pretoria High Court rejected the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (Fita) application to appeal the dismissal of its challenge on the ban of cigarette sales.

In its final attempt, Fita will now file a petition with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on the matter according to the organisations’ chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.

Twitter users on the platform were also seen commenting on the lack of social distancing at Mlangeni’s funeral as people gathered around his casket including Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

See the reactions below:

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