Cele urges law enforcement, SANDF to work within the law during Covid-19 lockdown
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PRETORIA - Police Minister Bheki Cele on Sunday commended law enforcement agencies and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who have been enforcing coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown regulations, and urged them to work within the confines of the law.
“With us entering another two weeks of the lockdown aptly extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, I want to encourage the members on deployment to continue the good work of ensuring that our citizens are protected against the killer coronavirus, and that they do this within the confines of the law,” Cele said in a statement.
He paid tribute to two members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) killed while executing their duties during the lockdown.
Constable Percy Ramalepe, aged 33 and based at Sandton in Johannesburg, was buried in Giyani in Limpopo on Saturday. He was shot dead while responding to a complaint of domestic violence on April 9.
At the time, the SAPS said the constable was allegedly killed by the 60-year-old husband of the complainant. The man then turned the gun on himself and died on the scene.
Sergeant Steven Damoense, also aged 33 and from the Northern Cape SAPS organised crime unit, was also buried on Saturday. Damoense was on patrol on March 30 in Rietvale, Modderrivier when he was fatally stabbed by a suspect who had since been arrested.
Cele urged SAPS management to ensure that police officers were protected against possible Covid-19 infection at all times, and that they were adequately equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
“That there are a number of police members who have tested positive for the corona virus is no anomaly, and it is for this reason that we are appealing to members of the public to do the right thing and stay home to protect our members who are out there on the streets, exposed and vulnerable to infection and spreading of the virus,” he said.
Cele and SAPS management expressed concern at countrywide arrests of people for violating lockdown regulations. People had been arrested for offences, including fraudulent lockdown permits, failure to confine themselves to places of residence, and illegal gatherings, but the biggest percentage had been arrested for violating regulations on the prohibition of the sale of liquor, including a number of police officers.
Cele appealed to civil society to work with and support government’s priority to get South Africans to stay home. He said galvanising society to stay home would reduce the burden on security forces in relation to policing during the lockdown.