South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa jokes about arrest for breaking coronavirus rules

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been criticised for posing for photos with strangers despite telling people to keep their distance to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

A video shows Mr Ramaphosa joking about breaking social distancing rules after two women asked him for the photo.

He is heard saying “come, before we get arrested”, prompting laughter.

On Sunday the country reported 1,160 new coronavirus infections – the highest daily numbers yet.

South Africa has had some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, including a ban on cigarettes and alcohol, but is now easing some restrictions.

The country has the highest number of cases of Covid-19 in Africa – 15,515, with 264 deaths. However, Egypt and Algeria have had more fatalities, with more than 500 each.

What happened?

The video was posted on Twitter on Sunday by journalist Nwabisa Makunga who said the incident happened outside her window.

It appears Mr Ramaphosa, known for his love of outdoor exercise, was going for a walk or a jog when the women approached him.

Although they do not shake hands, but bump elbows, the two women then posed for a photo standing right next to the president, disregarding official advice to keep at least two metres away from people from different households.

An article reproduced on a government website about social distancing explains that “one needs to avoid handshakes, hugs and other forms of direct contact as well as keeping a distance of at least two metres from others”.

After joking about being arrested, Mr Ramaphosa says: “I’d rather be arrested with you.”

South Africa’s security forces have been accused of brutality while enforcing the lockdown restrictions.

Banner image reading 'more about coronavirus'
Banner image reading ‘more about coronavirus’

Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. These can be breathed in, or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, then your eyes, nose or mouth.

This tweeter points out the number of times the virus could have been spread in this one interaction between the president and the women:

But others were more forgiving:

In April Mr Ramaphosa struggled while demonstrating how to put on a mask, leading to widespread mockery on social media and the hashtags #MaskOnChallenge and #CyrilMaskChallenge trending on Twitter:

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