Police swoop on their colleagues for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown laws
Durban - Even the police are not above the country's lockdown laws as was demonstrated when 12 policemen including a reservist were arrested at the weekend for allegedly breaking the National Disaster Management Regulations - related to the coronavirus lockdown - as well as for corruption .
Their arrest were applauded by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla John Sitole, who commended the work by the arresting officers and the rest of the force who have been on the frontline of defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to police, the majority of police officers have been hard at work to flatten the curve of the spread of the Covid-19 virus but their work has been blighted by others who have shown disregard for the regulations.
At the weekend twelve officers including a reservist were arrested in three separate incidents, following their alleged involvement in the violation of National Disaster Management Regulations as well as corruption, police spokesman, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said.
In the first incident, five members including a police reservist attached to the Namahadi Police Station in Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State Province were arrested after they were allegedly part of a group drinking alcohol at a local tavern on Saturday.
They initially escaped as members were about to pounce on them. However, they were later arrested on Sunday as they reported on duty.
"Pictures of the members being arrested went viral, a moment that SAPS management is not proud of but the arrest was indeed a necessary course of action. The 44-year-old tavern owner was also arrested on the same day for violating the Regulations on the prohibition of the sale of liquor. All liquor was seized and the tavern shut down. The police officials will be charged with Defeating the Ends of Justice and failing to enforce and adhere to the National Disaster Management Regulations," Naidoo said.
In the second incident, six members attached to the Brooklyn and Silverton Police Stations in Pretoria were arrested on Saturda after members of the Mpumalanga Provincial Anti-Corruption Unit received information that the officers had stolen over R30 000 in cash from a group of people passing through a road block.
According to reports, members initially demanded a bribe of R100 after realising that the driver of a sedan and two passengers were not in possession of the required documentation. The money was allegedly stolen after the sedan was searched at the said road block.
"All six members were arrested after they were found in possession of the money and they are currently being detained at a local Police Station," Naidoo said.
In the third incident, a member was detained after he held a gathering at the police barracks in Soshanguve.
While all the officers face criminal charges, internal departmental processes within the service will follow, Naidoo explained.
"Fighting corruption and restoring the integrity of the Service remains a top priority for police management. The arrest of our own will send a stern warning to all men and women in blue as well as all law enforcement agencies to steer clear of criminality and corruption at all times. While these incidents are disappointing, it must be noted that these are isolated incidents. The arrest of these police officers is indicative of the SAPS commitment in the fight against this pandemic. We continue to urge all our members to remain focused to the cause of ridding our country of the pandemic by continuing with the enforcement of the Disaster Management Act Regulations," he said.
Naidoo said latest arrest of 13 foreign nationals for breaking the Lockdown rules in Tongaat, North of Durban and the arrest of those dealing in liquor as well as the seizure of over R8 million worth of alcohol both in the South Coast and in Pinetown in KZN should send a stern warning to all those who find themselves in violation of the Regulations.
“The arrest of our own is both disheartening and at the same time pleasing in a sense that it shows that the SAPS remains unbiased as wells that it has the capacity and the capability to decisively deal with criminality within its ranks”, said General Sitole.