There is never a good time to get married, an event that is notoriously stressful and logistically complicated.
A union during a pandemic is even more difficult to manage.
Reports have emerged that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, hosted a two-day wedding for his son Buyambo on the morning that President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country from lockdown Level 1 to Level 3.
The second day of the proceedings would have taken place one day after Ramaphosa’s announcement.
As part of the adjusted lockdown strategy, gatherings were once again restricted until at least 15 January.
Alcohol sales were also scrapped temporarily.
National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, explained that a wedding had taken place on the morning that Ramaphosa was due to make his risk-adjusted lockdown announcement, which was on 28 December 2020.
He said Mantashe was not aware that changes would be made, and because the wedding was stretched over two days, on 28 and 29 December 2020, stragglers were still gathered in the area where the celebrations took place.
Naidoo confirmed that Mantashe personally went to the Cala police station at around 8am the day after Ramaphosa’s level 3 announcement.
“He said listen, I have people at my place, but they’re going to be leaving, and if anyone says anything, this is what happened.”
Naidoo said police do not believe the minister broke any rules, saying it was more of a “circumstantial” situation than a deliberate law-breaking exercise.
“It’s not like he waited for the announcement to invite people. The wedding already happened on the previous day.”
Although some have accused Mantashe of flouting the strict rules laid out by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), Naidoo said the incident was more a case of bad timing.
Mantashe and his wife Nolwandle tested positive for Covid-19 in July 2020.
Mantashe was admitted to hospital, and his wife was able to self-quarantine at home.
Weddings, funerals, and religious gatherings have long been deemed “super-spreader” events, and limiting the number of people was essential to keep as many beds open for Covid-19 patients.
In July, at least 25 people who attended a wedding in KwaZulu-Natal tested positive for Covid-19, many of which occupied much-needed hospital beds.