Somizi granted R1 500 bail after handing himself over to police after lockdown comment

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Somizi.
Somizi.
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Idols judge, radio presenter and choreographer Somizi Mhlongo handed himself over to police last week and was granted R1 500 bail, after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula opened a case against him, police confirmed to News24 on Tuesday. 

Mhlongo, one of the country's leading celebrities, was thrust into the centre of a controversy when a video in which he is heard talking about the national lockdown emerged last Thursday.

In the video, Mhlongo can be heard telling his Metro FM co-host Dineo Ranaka that "Fikile" told him the lockdown, which was initially due to end on 16 April, would be extended. It was understood that he was referring to Mbalula.

The video is a recording of an Instagram Live stream Ranaka was running from her account on the popular video and photo sharing platform.

READ | Mbalula lays charge against Somizi over lockdown comment

Hours after the clip went viral, Ramaphosa indeed announced a two-week extension of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Mhlongo's comments sparked much concern that Mbalula had shared sensitive information with a friend before it was announced by the president.

The entertainer subsequently apologised for his comment, labelling it a "very bad joke". He also denied speaking to the minister at all about the lockdown.

While Mbalula said he forgave Mhlongo, this did not stop him from opening a case against the celebrity at the Sandton Police Station on Friday.

He said he was opening the case "under the Disaster Management Act on fake news and misinformation peddling".

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Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo confirmed that Mhlongo had appeared at the station with his attorney on Friday.

"He was granted bail and he is expected to reappear again on 3 July 2020," Naidoo said. 

Naidoo said Mhlongo was charged with contravening Section 11(5)(c) of the regulations pertaining to the Disaster Management Act. 

Calls to Mhlongo for comment before publication were unsuccessful. His response will be added once received.

On Friday, he took to Instagram and told his followers he was willing to accept the repercussions of his actions, adding that he wasn't above the law.

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