More than 340,000 people were convicted of breaking some of the world’s toughest lockdown restrictions.
South Africa’s parliament has passed a bill which would expunge criminal records for those convicted of breaching Covid-19 lockdown laws.
South Africa had some of the world’s toughest restrictions, which saw more than 340,000 convicted for not wearing masks, consuming alcohol and breaking curfew, among other violations.
Those who admitted guilt and paid fines will now have their records cleared.
South Africans have broadly welcomed this bill.
There had been numerous complaints about people missing out on employment opportunities because of their criminal records.
It has to be approved by the National Council of Provinces, and then signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa but there is little doubt it will become law.
The Judicial Matters Amendment Bill gained broad political support when it was debated in parliament.
However, the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) welcomed part of the bill but said it couldn’t support it as a whole.
“The prosecutions and persecutions that came about as a result of the regulations flowing from the Disaster Management Act during the pandemic demonstrated the depth into which our judiciary system could be used to severely limit the rights of individuals,” said EFF MP Veronica Mente.
“May the law never again be used in pursuit of sinister motives such as what happened during Covid,” she said.
South Africa’s Covid restrictions were only fully lifted in April 2022, after evidence showed that many people had lost their jobs and businesses suffered significant losses during the pandemic.