Bheki Cele tight-lipped on unbanning alcohol, cigarette sales
Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele says he is not at liberty to comment on whether the ban of the sale of alcohol and cigarettes will be lifted at the end of the level 4 lockdown.
Cele says his job and that of police, was to ensure that regulations were adhered to. The ban of the sale of alcohol and tobacco products has been in place since the national lockdown began on March 27, 57 days ago.
The ban has been seen as controversial as the government did a U-turn last month after President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced that tobacco products would be sold under level 4 restrictions.
A week later, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council had decided to keep the sales ban in place, citing health risks and comments from thousands who called for the ban to continue. She also said smokers shared cigarettes, leading to the heightened risk of the virus spreading.
Cele was asked about his thoughts on whether the ban on alcohol and tobacco products would continue under level 3 following a report that the issue had led to a debate at a recent NCCC meeting.
A News24 report on Friday said that Dlamini Zuma had pushed for the ban on alcohol and tobacco products to continue until level 1.
Cele said it was not up to him and that regulations governing level 3 would be announced soon.
"I am a member of the NCCC, therefore my contribution will be made to the committee. The president or minister responsible for the regulation will make that announcement. Our job will be to enforce what is decided," he said on Friday at a press briefing.
Cele also clarified that people would not be arrested if they were seen smoking cigarettes in their homes. He said if a person was seen out in public smoking the police would request that the person provide a receipt showing when and where the cigarettes were purchased.
"It is not illegal to smoke cigarettes in your house. The only problem is when you fail to show us when and where you got the cigarettes. Buying cigarettes and the sale is illegal. Until those regulations are removed it will remain an offence to do such," he said.
On transporting alcohol, Cele reiterated that this was illegal and people would continue being arrested if alcohol was found in a car.
The illegal smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol was on the rise on the country's borders with Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Bostwana, Cele said. SAPS and SANDF officials had confiscated illegal cigarettes and alcohol worth R2.6 million between April and March.