Police Minister Bheki Cele addresses media in Pretoria. The minister says that social distancing to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country does not mean that the police will stop arresting anyone doing crime. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)
Police Minister Bheki Cele addresses media in Pretoria. The minister says that social distancing to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country does not mean that the police will stop arresting anyone doing crime. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)

Coronavirus: National disaster doesn't mean we won't arrest you, says Bheki Cele

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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PRETORIA – Police Minister Bheki Cele on Monday warned that the state of national disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which limits human close contact, does not mean the police are taking a break from intensive law enforce and combating crime. 

“We are still looking after crime. Definitely we are not deviating from that. Even though we know we are supposed to have limited social contact, but if we are to arrest you, we cannot arrest you via the email, we will have to be there. 

"It doesn’t mean that because we don’t have to come close to you, and we will not come close to you,” Cele said to journalists in Pretoria. 

The tough talking minister was part of a government ministers' panel making up the National Command Council set up by Ramaphosa to lead South Africa’s intervention in the wake of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading in the country. 

“We have spoken with the Ethekwini municipality about stopping the breatherlyser. Stopping the breatherlyser doesn’t mean we are stopping from checking that you are drunk. That will continue … we will go straight to your blood tests. 

"We have nurses and doctors in the field where we have roadblocks,” Cele said. 

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said if the epidemic continues to ravage South Africa, the intervention might be upgraded from national disaster to a state of emergency. 

“That would be an element of last resort, if there is a need.  We are also showing you that we are putting all options on the table and we will use all the necessary means as guided by the Constitution,” Lamola said. 

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said corporates should implement measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. 

“That means social distance provisions around canteens, clocking-in arrangements – all of those will be worked through after the Nedlac meeting. 

"We are looking at industrial hygiene and mass cleaning of surfaces and also, this is a useful opportunity to see how workplace medical facilities could be used both for staff but also in some instances, for surrounding communities,” Patel said. 

On Sunday, Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in South Africa and announced school closures and travel bans as the number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the country rose to 61.

He said all schools across the country would close from Wednesday and gatherings of more than 100 people were prohibited.

South Africa has now imposed a travel ban from China, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the United States from Wednesday, and South Africans were, with immediate effect, to refrain from travelling to the United Kingdom, Europe, the US, China, and South Korea.

African News Agency

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