Sunday, 24 January 2021 20:27

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mthsweni-Tsipane, has apologised after she was filmed not wearing a mask at the cemetery where Jackson Mthembu was being laid to rest.

Mtshweni-Tsipane claims she did not know the mask had fallen off.

Footage taken after the funeral shows her arriving at the cemetery without a mask. 

She then hugs a police officer, and waves as she makes her way towards the grave.

The premier's office said it noted the images circulating on social media, depicting her without a mask as prescribed by the state of disaster regulation aimed at combating the spread of Covid-19.

This was a temporary glitch that was swiftly resolved, the office said.

"Upon arrival at the cemetery and disembarking from her vehicle, the premier’s mask was somehow damaged and she was oblivious of that when it fell. She thought it was intact as it was the case throughout.

"The premier’s aides promptly sought a replacement mask, which the premier utilised for the rest of the proceedings."

Mtsweni-Tsipane emphasised the importance of adhering to the Covid-19 regulations and urged the public to constantly wear masks, practice social distancing and sanitise or wash hands frequently.

She extended her "sincere apologies to the people of Mpumalanga and the country for that brief moment wherein her mask fell without her being aware or conscious of it."

Meanwhile Minister of Police Bheki Cele wants probe into Mpumalanga premier for not wearing mask.

"If South Africa wants to beat this invisible enemy which is Covid-19, we simply can’t let down our guard down. This is why I have spoken to the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole to look into the matter of the premier and an investigation must be conducted and necessary action must be taken," Cele concluded.

Cele reminded all South Africans that the wearing of a mask in public is mandatory for every person, under the adjusted alert Level 3 Lockdown regulations.