While the Democratic Alliance (DA) have not forgotten about the alleged lockdown breaches supposedly committed by KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Sihle Zikalala during lockdown Level 5 last year, the criminal investigation led by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appears to have broken down and been “swept under the rug”, according to the opposition party.

Zikalala accused of flouting lockdown laws  

The DA laid criminal charges against Zikalala in April 2020 after he allegedly flouted the stringent Level 5 lockdown laws by hosting a gathering of essential workers at the Clairwood Hospital in eThekwini and advertising the event as a Freedom Day celebration on his social media pages. 

Zikalala was accused of breaching the following lockdown regulations that were in place at the time:

  • Regulation 11 B on the restriction of movement stipulates that “every gathering, as defined in regulation 1, is prohibited.”
  • Only funerals were exempt from the rules, which at the time of the offence, were dictated by Level 5 of lockdown.
  • At the time of the rally, eThekwini had 67% of all KZN cases. The province also carried the highest number of infected health workers.
  • Zikalala was also been criticised for making the hospital workers stand in blazing sunshine and endure hot temperatures while he addressed them.

NPA ‘sweep investigation under the rug’  

Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA’s Shadow Minister of State Security, said that she has persistently tried to reach out to the NPA requesting an update on their investigation into Zikalala’s conduct, but said that no progress has been made. 

“It would appear that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in KwaZulu-Natal has decided not to press ahead with criminal charges brought against Premier Sihle Zikalala for flouting lockdown regulations last year,” she said in a statement released by the DA on Wednesday 3 March. 

She said that seven months after the incident took place, she wrote to the NPA’s Director, Advocate Shamilla Batohi, asking why there had been no progress in the matter, but could not coerce a satisfactory response. She added that investigating officer Brigadier Mngcwabe told her that the NPA “kept promising a decision, yet not a peep had been forthcoming”.

‘Laws for the powerful, and different laws for the rest of us’ 

Kohler Barnard said that she had now learnt that the matter was “quietly slipped under the carpet” over two months ago on the 28 December, and bemoaned the fact that this had taken place without so much as a response to her requests for information about the case. 

“Men like Zikalala get away with flouting the law, while ordinary South Africans, those without ANC connections, were persecuted without rationality or mercy,” she said. “We are then left asking whether or not the delay in relation to this case against the Premier showed that the NPA actually prosecutes with fear or favour.”

She suggested that a different set of laws exist for “the powerful and powerfully connected, and another set for the rest of us”. 

“All men, it appears, are not equal before the law in South Africa. Men like Zikalala will get away with holding potential super spreader, illegal events at a hospital no less, while citizens were arrested for legally buying groceries.”