The government will use cellphone towers to trace people who have been in contact with those who tested positive for Covid-19.
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said this was to assist the Department of Health in tracing people who came into contact with those who tested positive for the virus.
She added the department had sought permission from cellphone network operators to access the geo-location of people who had tested positive.
“We do respect that every citizen has a right to privacy, but in situations like these individual rights do not supersede the country’s rights.
“The most important critical rights is ensuring the safety of South Africans so that the spread [of Covid-19] doesn’t continue. We are not intercepting calls. Even for the person who had tested positive.
“Ours is to protect those who are close to the person who had tested positive. Operators will be arrested should they listen to people’s calls. This is done to trace people who have tested positive and their contacts.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams said cellphone shoppers have been banned from going to malls as all outlets were closed to prevent the virus from spreading, urging customers to buy cellphones online.
She also warned people not to publish fake news about Covid-19.
“All those spreading fake news are not doing the country any good, they are causing panic. We request everybody to desist from doing this.”