Johannesburg - As South Africa finally enters a 21-day national lockdown at midnight on Thursday, transgressors of stipulated orders of home stay could face six months in jail or a fine or both.
This was according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who outlined a list of prohibited activities and operations in the next three weeks as the country escalates its measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, sporadic cases of which had surged to more than 700 on Wednesday.
Cele announced that religious, cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, exhibition organisational or related activities were banned.
He also announced a total ban on alcohol sale and non-essential movement, adding that all restaurants and shopping centres would be forced to close, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies.
The SAPS and the SANDF have been tasked to enforce the compliance of the lockdown measures by civilians throughout the country.
“There shall be no food at restaurants. You buy food from these outlets and go and cook at home, so there is no need to be on the road. There is no need to move around.
“There was a little bit of a story earlier that you can walk your dogs. There shall be no dogs that will be walked. The cluster met and discussed and we agreed that it does not enhance the call made by the president,” Cele said.
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He further maintained that the movement of liquor would be totally prohibited during the lockdown.
“There shall be no movement of liquor from point A to point B. If we find liquor in your boot, that is illegal. That is a crime, which means what you have at your home, you will consume there, not next door. To show that we are serious, if you break these laws or regulations, you are (jailed for) six months or (given) a fine or both.”
Cele said two people had already been charged for attempted murder in KwaZulu-Natal for transgressions.
“It is not a fairy tale to say the law will act very harshly on you. We hope we will work together here,” he said.
He noted that the total ban on alcohol would reduce car accidents and violent drunken brawls, and open up space in hospitals to accommodate Covid-19 patients when the infections get worse.
The lockdown will also see beaches, pools, game reserves and hotels closed, except when they were allowed to open due to the presence of tourists.
The curfew would include patrols, roadblocks, closures and searches.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said while soldiers were deployed to ensure enforcement of the lockdown, this was not meant to subject civilians to abuse and violence.
“The national lockdown is definitely not meant to punish citizens by restricting their movements, but it is meant to contain and minimise the spread of this virus. The Constitution of the Republic SA mandates the SANDF to defend and protect the republic, its territorial integrity and its people in order to preserve life, health and properties in emergency and humanitarian relief operations,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said all passenger flights, rail services and cruise ships would shut down during the lockdown.
Mbalula said buses and minibus taxis would only be allowed to transport essential service workers, with those banned from operating meant to be given financial relief.
As part of the relief measures for small businesses in distress, taxi owners would be granted a three-month payment holiday.
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