(Release below from South African Police Service)

As the national lockdown kicked off on Thursday night, 26 March 2020 at 23h59, Police Minister, General Bheki Cele visited four main roadblocks on the major exit and entrance routes in Gauteng, including the main one on the N1 to and from Limpopo…

Minister Cele spent time with the commanders and the members on the ground who are on deployment to operationalise and enforce the lockdown regulations in the strife to curb the spread of the corona virus.

Just under 24 000 members have been deployed where the SAPS is complemented by the SANDF deployment, respective Metro Police Departments and other law enforcement officers.

As soon as the clock struck midnight, vehicles whose movement was in contravention of the regulations, were turned back at roadblocks which were also mounted at the N4 to and from the North West; and on the N3 to and from KwaZulu Natal. The Minister confirmed that a total of 172 roadblocks had been mounted on the main routes countrywide, covering parallel routes to deal with those motorists who attempted to dodge the main roadblocks.

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In addition to the roadblocks, police saturated hotspot areas such as Soshanguve where police ensured that known liquor outlets were shut and no selling and consumption was taking place.

Some visits to hotspots were in response to the growing list of tip-offs police continue to receive from caring citizens.

As the dawn of Friday 27 March 2020 broke, members of the SAPS, the SANDF and Metro Police Departments increased visibility and patrols became the order of the day. This resulted in the arrest of 55 people across the country: 20 in Gauteng, 06 of whom were arrested in Alexandra alone and 14 in other parts of the Province; 11 in the North West; 10 in Limpopo; 07 in KwaZulu Natal; 05 in the Free State; and 02 in the Western Cape.

Some of these transgressors blatantly defied the instructions and the lockdown Regulations and engaged in activities such as street-bashes, while some were sitting in groups drinking when it has been emphasised a number of times that the selling and movement of liquor during the lockdown period will be prohibited.

“The intentional contravention of the lockdown Regulations does not only undermine the authority of the State but in fact, undermines the health and the lives of the citizens of South Africa who have during this time displayed goodwill by cooperating with and supporting police efforts to enforce the law,” said Minister Cele, cautioning those who are hellbent on making a mockery of government efforts and turning the spread of the coronavirus into a joke.

“War against coronavirus”

Minister Cele also assured the country that, “this war we find ourselves in, is not a war against any citizen of this country, but is a war against a common enemy, the corona virus. Whoever breaks the law and chooses to join the enemy against the citizens, will face the full might of the law and police will decisively make sure that we defend the people of South Africa.”

Acknowledging the challenges that came with the first day of the lockdown, Minister General Bheki Cele confirmed that talks were underway between the Departments of Police, Trade and Industry, and Transport to address issues experienced in some areas with long queues at shops where people were not observing social distancing rules nor hygiene protocols. There will be continuous assessment of the implementation of the lockdown and measures will be enhanced where the need arises.

The Minister issued a stern warning to those who lie to the police and use the queues at shops and pharmacies as an opportunity to go out for reasons other than acquiring essential goods and/or services. Police are under instruction to deal decisively with such chancers.

The Minister also assured the citizens of the country that police will respond swiftly to all genuine tip-offs.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Police has commended the latest arrest on Friday evening 27 March 2020 just after 23h30, of a 36-year old male from Kanana in Tshwane North, who has been taken into police custody for contravention of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Regulations.

It is alleged that on Saturday 21 March 2020, the first weekend after President Ramaphosa had declared a State of Disaster, the suspect and a group of people were returning from a funeral and gathered at Temba Square for what is commonly referred to as “After-Tears”. It is at this illegal gathering of more than 100 people where public consumption of liquor was taking place, that the suspect allegedly captured himself on video which has gone viral on social media, where he is seen and heard contravening the Covid-19 Regulations.

“This should come as a warning to those who continue to make a mockery of the COVID-19 scourge and undermine the efforts of government, that the law will not be kind to their ilk,” said Minister Cele.

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