South African citizens who refuse to be counted during Census 2022 may face up to six months imprisonment or be liable for a R10 000 fine, according to the head of Stats SA in Limpopo, Nthambeleni Mukwevho.
This R20 billion project is expected to see about 160 000 field workers counting the population in February. The project kicks off on the night of 2 February, when the homeless will be counted.
The census is held every 10 years, and the data of each individual in every household is collected.
While the country continues to battle the effects of Covid-19, Mukwevho has urged the public to register online – as the census goes online for the first time in the history of the country.
Field workers will use digital devices to capture data in real-time for a reduced turnaround time, and the information gathered will outline the profile of the country’s population and its living conditions.
Mukwevho warned that any member of the public refusing to work with the field workers may be jailed.
Addressing the media at a press briefing on the state of readiness at the Stats SA provincial headquarters in Polokwane last week, he said: “We can lay a charge for breaking the laws of the Constitution, and perpetrators could be sentenced to six months or pay a R10 000 fine. That would be the last option because we have no time to waste laying charges. Police will go to citizens’ houses to arrest them if it comes to that.”
Mukwevho recalled having to lay charges during the previous census.
“I remember we had to arrest someone in 2012 because they were refusing to answer census questions and when he arrived at the police station and he saw the reality of it, he now wanted to co-operate with the police.
“But that then disrupts the system, because we have to remove you from your house and count you in a different zone.”
Mukwevho said the census was imperative for the government in terms of equitable distribution of resources. “For example, when government has to grant financial allocations to municipalities, they have to go according to the number of people who are residents under that particular municipality.
When asked about security measures to protect the field workers, Mukwevho said “they will be working where they live and where they are known. We have also formed partnerships with the SAPS and they will be updating us on any of the hot spots, if there are any”.