Police Minister, Bheki Cele has issued a stern warning to those who don’t follow the rules of the national lockdown as SA further relaxes the restrictions under lockdown level 1.
“We are aware that as the days get warmer and the restrictions are more relaxed, law enforcement will have to work harder to ensure they bring an end to any behaviour that threatens the containment of Coronavirus,” Cele told the media on Tuesday.
The Minister was addressing the big picture of the policing landscape following the President’s announcement last week about the country moving to level 1.
He said that the country’s police force will continue to uphold law and order at all times and remain on high alert to prevent a spike in crime.
Arrests made during the lockdown
The minister said that 310 494 people have been arrested and charged with contraventions of the Disaster Management Act since the start of the lockdown in March.
These violations relate to offences involving liquor, transport, business and cross-border travel, which was strictly prohibited to prevent a surge in cases.
Cele said that although social gatherings such as concerts and live performances are allowed under alert level 1, nightclubs will stay closed until further notice.
Read more on Alert level 1 restrictions
“Communities are urged to be considerate when hosting social gatherings in residential areas. There are many complaints received of noisy and disruptive behaviour in people’s homes,” the Minister said.
Curfew and alcohol
Cele said the police will continue to enforce the curfew, which now begins at midnight until 4 am.
The sale of liquor is allowed from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, while no booze may be sold for off-site consumption over the weekend or during public holidays.
He had visited some outlets in Ekurhuleni during a police operation over the weekend.
The minister condemned some liquor outlet owners who overlook the rules, saying that some businesses choose to ignore the rules to make a profit.
“We came across several shebeens and taverns operating way past the stipulated 10 pm curfew under alert level 2.
“More disturbing, was the practice of some liquor outlets squeezing patriots inside their venues with shut windows and doors.”
The owners and managers of bars and shebeens are first to be arrested during these police investigations, while patrons are let go.
Cele said that some restaurants and eateries are also breaking the rules, putting their customers at risk of infection in the process.
“I want to remind all the business owners who insist on flouting the rules – the long arm of the law will catch up with you, and you will also lose your operating licence.” said the minister
Since the start of the outbreak, Cele says that 16 539 officers have already been infected by Covid-19, claiming the lives of 215 men and women in blue.
“However, I remain encouraged by the high recovery rate. Over 15 000 have won the battle against the virus and are back to serving their communities,” he said.
Cele said the virus is still “very much with us”, despite the further lifting of restrictions.
“People need to take responsibility for their own lives and that of their loved ones.”