Eastern Cape cops arrest 13 for illegal liquor sales and public violence
Port Elizabeth - Four people have been arrested in the Eastern Cape in two separate incidents this week for contravening the coronavirus (Covid-19) level 3 lockdown regulations on liquor sales under the Disaster Management Act, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the province said on Saturday.
In one of the incidents, SAPS members came under attack near Joubertina "while executing their duties" at about 7.15 pm on Friday night and nine other people were arrested for public violence, SAPS Eastern Cape spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said in a statement.
"Members from Joubertina SAPS were following up information of a house that was selling illegal liquor concoctions in [the] Louterwater area, Joubertina.
"At the scene, members arrested two suspects, aged 30 and 44, for selling illegal liquor concoctions and also confiscated over 300 litres of this illicit brew," Tonjeni said.
When the officers were about to leave the scene, a group of over 100 people hurled stones at them, inflicting costly damages to the police vehicle. Fortunately, no one was injured during the incident, but damage to the police vehicle was estimated to be around R50 000.
The officers called for back-up and a total of nine suspects, five women and four men, were arrested for public violence. Further arrests had not been ruled out.
The nine suspects, aged between 18 and 63, were due to appear in the Joubertina Magistrates' Court on Monday on charges of public violence, Tonjeni said.
Eastern Cape police commissioner Lt-Gen Liziwe Ntshinga condemned the incident.
“We condemn the attack in the strongest terms and we will not allow callous and despicable acts of violence against our members while executing their duties. The supremacy of the law and those executing their legal responsibilities must be respected," Ntshinga said.
In the other incident, a "well-known liquor store’s manager who is doing business" at Mdantsane Highway shopping centre near East London was arrested, together with another suspect, on Wednesday for contravening the Disaster Management Act regulations, SAPS Eastern Cape spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said in a separate statement.
One of the two men, aged 38 and 39, was arrested in Mdantsane Highway shopping centre while the other handed himself over to police.
"These arrests followed after information was received that the liquor store was continuing to sell liquor to customers in the early hours of the morning at Highway in Mdantsane. On investigation, it was established that indeed there was evidence that liquor was being loaded into private vehicles as early as before 5:00 in the early morning.
"After [the] suspects were approached as part of the investigation, the manager admitted that they indeed sold liquor to unknown persons. Subsequently, a search warrant was obtained and inside the liquor store invoices were found.
"The invoices depicted transactions which were made on different dates from the 31st December 2020 to 13th January 2021. All these contraventions took place while the sale and transportation of alcohol is already prohibited," Kinana said.
The two suspects were also charged for failing to be in their residences during the 9 pm to 5 am curfew and failing to wear a face mask in public. They had been summoned to appear in the Mdantsane Magistrates' Court on February 2, with the option of a R10,000 fine. The value of the liquor illegally sold was estimated at R66,700, Kinana said.
Eastern Cape SAPS Maj-Gen Thembisile Patekile warned that "non-compliance remains a criminal offence in terms of the Disaster Management Act regulations and lockdown restrictions, and people who are determined to violate these laws must answer for their actions in the courts of law”.
Investigations were continuing to trace other suspects who allegedly bought and unlawfully transported liquor during this period, Kinana nsaid.
African News Agency (ANA)