Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Bheki Cele issues stern warning to those planning to defy Covid-19 lockdown regulations

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jun 30, 2021

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Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday sent out a stern warning to those who threatened to defy the lockdown regulations in the wake of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We want to take this opportunity to remind the nation that reckless calls for mass contravention of the Disaster Management Act have no space in our society.

“This has been done by some political leaders, but also by some people from business,” Cele said.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said there could be no gatherings in the next two weeks and political parties could campaign online.

“It will be reviewed after two weeks and then we will know if campaigning goes on or not,” Dlamini Zuma said.

They made statements at the media briefing where Cele and other ministers outlined measures to ensure compliance during alert level 4.

The EFF has vowed to defy the regulations and continue to hold meetings in preparation for the municipal elections, despite the gatherings being prohibited.

Cele, however, welcomed what he described as a change of heart on calls made to people to trade in alcohol in defiance of the regulations.

He urged all to play their part in flattening the curve.

“Police and security forces will continue to play their part together with the community,” he said.

Cele said non-compliance would result in a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

Since March 2020, 465 098 people have been charged with contravention of the Disaster Management Act.

“All those people will be charged and will have a criminal record. (A total of) 7 439 of them were arrested during alert level 4 on 16 June.

“The police will continue to monitor compliance through targeted operations which will be intensified in hot spot provinces,” he said.

Cele said what strengthened the hand of police was that these were not just prohibitions, and that flouting the regulations was made criminal.

“That will make things easier for the police. That includes people who mobilise gatherings, either political or otherwise.

“The police will be able now to pursue and arrest organisers and those people breaking the law by being there, having no proper distance or masks,” he said.

Also speaking at the media briefing, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the transport sector should continue to comply with health protocols and the wearing of masks.

“It is mandatory for any driver, owner or operator of public transport service not to allow any member of the public, not wearing a face mask, to board or be conveyed in public transport owned by him or her,” he said.

Mbalula said the transportation of liquor was prohibited except where alcohol was required for industries producing hand sanitisers, disinfectants, soap and alcohol for industrial use and household cleaning products as well as exports.

“We must continue to ensure strict adherence to health protocols and restrictions if we are to arrest the spread of the pandemic,” he said.

Mbalula said restrictions on international travel remained and that it was restricted to OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, Lanseria Airport, and Kruger-Mpumalanga International Airport.

“Exception on curfew for long haul flight departures and landing remain.”

Responding to questions, Mbalula said travellers were required to produce a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours, and that passengers should be screened and advised to wear masks.

He also said they have been advised that the aviation and airline sectors were not super spreaders.

“We need to balance lives and livelihoods. We can’t shut down aviation,” he said.

Mbalula also dismissed criticism that the government had not banned flights to and from India.

“We don’t have airlines from India. They (passengers) come to South Africa via other countries. They are subjected to the same regulations in terms of PCR tests. There is nothing to ban,” Mbalula added.

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Political Bureau

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