Police and soldiers ready to enforce curfew, says Bheki Cele

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Durban - The police and the soldiers are ready to enforce sweeping measures in place to curtail the rapid spread of Covid-19 in South Africa, Police Minister Bheki Cele said in a press briefing on Wednesday. 

“The police and the SANDF are ready to enforce the measures If you are found guilty you can go (to jail) for six months or face a fine, or both,” Cele said in Pretoria.

He warned that police would throw the book at anyone who defied the rules of the 21-day national lockdown.

“We will be increasing visibility and conducting integrated foot patrols, roadblocks, vehicle checkpoints as of 11.59pm on Thursday evening,” Cele said.

“Metro police departments as well as other law-enforcement agencies will form part of these joint operations for the duration of the lockdown. Operations, especially roadblocks, will be conducted at sector policing level within communities and residential areas, on provincial and national roads,” he said.

Cele listed the places and premises that would be closed to the public during the lockdown:

* Any public places usually open to the public for religious, cultural, sporting, entertainment or similar activities.

* Places where goods other than essential goods like food and medical supplies are acquired or disposed of.

* Public parks, beaches, swimming pools, fetes, bazaars, night clubs, casinos.

* Private and public game reserves, lodges and guest houses, with the exception of those hosting international tourists who are being kept on the premises in light of the regulations.

* Taverns, shebeens, shisanyamas and places where alcohol is sold.

* Theatres, cinemas, restaurants shopping malls and centres, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies.

“There was a little bit of a story earlier that you could walk your dogs. No dogs shall be walked,” Cele said.

The Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said the measures were “not meant to punish people but to contain and minimise the spread of the virus”. She said the SANDF would be deployed nationally to conduct mobile and foot patrols, as well as cordon-and-search and roadblock operations.

“You have not seen a deployment of the SANDF yet, what we have seen is movement of soldiers from point A to point B. Some of the videos that have come through are fake news,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said all of the country’s borders would be shut to the movement of people, but the movement of goods and services would be permitted.

“Home Affairs will have a skeleton staff to issue temporary IDs for those who have lost their IDs and need to make transactions with the bank that are essential. There will be no applications for new IDs during the 21 days,” he said. Motsoaledi said the department would not be issuing any passports during the lockdown.

The Mercury

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