Lockdown: Anti-mask protester who allegedly assaulted reporter sent for psychiatric observation

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Anti-mask protesters at a Western Cape beach on Saturday.
Anti-mask protesters at a Western Cape beach on Saturday.
Twitter/MoniqueMortlock
  • A man accused of pulling a journalist's mask off during a protest over the Lockdown at Fish Hoek will stay in custody after a chaotic appearance in court.  
  • He was charged with assault and breach of the Disaster Management Act regulations. 
  • However, after shouting and swearing in court, he remains in custody for the district surgeon to decide whether he needs a full mental evaluation.

The man arrested after Cape Town journalist Monique Mortlock was assaulted during a protest at Fish Hoek beach on Saturday, has been sent to the district surgeon to establish whether he needs a psychiatric evaluation. 

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Craig Peiser was due to appear in the Simons Town Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of assault and breach of the Disaster Management Act regulations.

The eNCA reporter was shocked when her mask was allegedly pulled off as she was confronted during the We are More protest at the beachfront at Fish Hoek on Saturday.

READ | Cele concedes treated pensioners harsher than beach protesters in Cape Town

But after a chaotic sequence of events, he was kept in custody so that a district surgeon could examine him. 

According to EWN who were on the scene, the commotion started at the court's entrance, and spilled over into the corridors when Peiser took his mask off, and gave a security guard a lecture on Christianity, then again inside the court. 

Custody

"The magistrate has kept him in custody and referred him to the district surgeon for assessment/observation for possible referral for mental observation due to his conduct in court," said Ntabazalila.

"He rambled on and on, shouted and swore."

The Disaster Management Act regulations make provision for a fine or imprisonment if people ignore a warning to wear a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

READ | Lockdown: Man arrested for allegedly assaulting a reporter during an anti-mask protest 

According to Mortlock's coverage of the incident, Peiser became annoyed with her because she was wearing a mask, and he could not hear her.

The protesters attended Saturday's event, to publicise their belief that the lockdown and the law compelling mask wearing is unconstitutional. 

Newzroom Afrika journalist Athi Mntongana also had her phone slapped away from her by a woman who said people who wear masks support paedophilia. 

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said a common assault case was also under investigation for Mntongana's case, after a case was opened on Sunday.

"As of now no arrest has been effected in this particular case."

Peiser is due to return to court on 10 February. 

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