British citizens who entered SA during lockdown get suspended fine

2020-05-16 11:02
Golela border post, Swaziland. (Pim GMX, Flickr)

Golela border post, Swaziland. (Pim GMX, Flickr)

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Two British citizens, who allegedly sped over the border between Eswatini and South Africa, have been fined R40 000 or 12 months in jail for contravening lockdown regulations. But the fine has been suspended.

James Hackett and Erkan Bali deliberately ignored border officials and crossed the border in April, disregarding lockdown regulations prohibiting foreigners from entering the country, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Natasha Kara said in a statement on Friday.

Both men arrived in South Africa on different dates in February and departed for Eswatini together on 18 March. They then attempted to re-enter the country on 11 April.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo previously told News24 that Hackett and Bali had driven from Eswatini. He said when they arrived at the Golela border post, they were denied entry into South Africa and were told to return to Eswatini.

"The men left the border and returned shortly afterwards, entering the country by driving straight through the port and ignoring the border officials present. They drove to a guesthouse in the Glenwood area [in Durban], where they were later arrested," Kara said.

Guilty plea

The two appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Friday, where they pleaded guilty to defeating/obstructing the administration of justice and the contravention of the Immigration Act.

In court, Acting Regional Court Prosecutor Ronitha Singh told the court that the offences were serious, and the actions of the accused had led to an inter-provincial search, resulting in expenditure of human and financial resources of the government and private sector.

"In addition, they showed a blatant disregard for the safety and bodily integrity of South African citizens, when they failed to notify a medical practitioner so that the relevant Covid-19 procedures could be implemented," Kara said.

They were fined R40 000 or 12 months in prison, plus a R10 000 fine or three months in prison for the contravention of the Immigration Act. The sentences were suspended for five years on condition that they are not convicted of the same offence during the period of suspension.  

Deportation

"As a form of good faith to the people of South Africa, Hackett and Bali have each paid an amount of R15 000 to the Solidarity Fund in an attempt to contribute to government's response to the Covid-19 crisis. They also undertook to pay the expenses related to their detention, maintenance, custody and deportation – so they alleviate any further burden on the State," said Kara.

Hackett and Bali have been handed over to immigration authorities, pending their deportation.

Read more on:    npa  |  eswatini  |  lockdown
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