Somizi charged and granted bail in lockdown ‘joke’ furore

It’s been reported that SA Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo has been allowed to stay at home on bail after handing himself over to police.

Last week, Mhlongo was accused of “name dropping and misinformation” by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula after the entertainer suggested that he knew in advance that the national coronavirus lockdown was about to be extended.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the two-week extension on Thursday night. Hours earlier, however, in an Instagram live video, Mhlongo was heard telling Metro FM host Dineo Ranaka that he’d been personally informed by Mbalula that the lockdown was going to be extended.

A furious Mbalula denied having spoken to Mhlongo about the lockdown. Despite accepting his apology on social media, the minister still went ahead and opened a case against the choreographer and radio host.

It is illegal to publish a statement “with the intention to deceive any other person about… any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19.”

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told News24 that Mhlongo, accompanied by his attorney, had handed himself in at the Sandton Police Station on Friday.

“He was granted bail and he is expected to reappear again on 3 July 2020,” Naidoo said. Mbalula confirmed the news on Twitter, writing that “He [Mhlongo ] was arrested he is on bail.”

Under the lockdown regulations, Mhlongo could face a fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months. He has insisted that he was simply joking with Ranaka to scare her and that he had no prior knowledge of the lockdown extension.

“I’m just like you, I did not know about it, I was just guessing and I think like everybody else I had a feeling that it was gonna be extended,” the remorseful Mhlongo said in a video posted on social media.

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