It’s official: you may transport booze this weekend.
This after co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma backtracked on comments made at a press conference earlier on Thursday.
Dlamini-Zuma insisted at the briefing transporting of alcohol was not allowed as part of a Easter weekend prohibition on off-site alcohol sales — but lawyers were quick to point out that this was not what the gazetted regulations stated.
Her spokesperson, Lungi Mtshali, told TimesLIVE on Thursday night that transporting alcohol was legal, as the regulations had not been amended since they were published on March 30.
“The only prohibition is that people can’t purchase liquor for off-site consumption,” Mtshali said.
Lawyer Richard Spoor told TimesLIVE the minister’s incorrect statements at the press conference could lead to an increased risk of conflict and violence as they contradicted the regulations. Spoor said the principle of legality, in criminal law, meant that only the law could define a crime and prescribe a penalty.
“According to that principle, an offence must be clearly defined in the law. The requirements are satisfied where the individual can know from the wording of the relevant provision what acts and omissions will make him criminally liable,” Spoor said.
Another lawyer, Elmien du Plessis, said a minister’s press conference is “never law”. She said that in SA, legislation must be published — meaning the gazetted regulations will always be the law. If something was not gazetted, it created no offence, and a charge or arrest based on something that was not gazetted would be unlawful.
Du Plessis said SA was criticised for its harsh implementation of lockdown regulations by the police, and pointed that conflicting messages from the executive on what the law is could create a possibly explosive situation.
“Clarity on the rules and good communication is pivotal in a situation of disaster. Citizens must know what they may, and may not, do. Situations like this cause confusion, but I would also add, it also damages the trust we have in government,” she said.
Both lawyers were speaking before Cogta’s backtrack.
Spoor said a criminal offence must be clearly described so that people can know what conduct is prohibited, adding that any arrest or confiscation would be unlawful and the arrested person would have a claim for damages based on the unlawful arrest.