Police Minister Bheki Cele has thanked the SAPS, the SANDF, Provincial Traffic, Metro Police Departments and other law enforcement agencies, for doing fairly well in terms of enforcing the regulations.

Thursday marks day 27 of the nationwide lockdown declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of COVID-19.

South Africa has 3 465 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while at least 58 people have died from the virus.

The minister said in a statement that he has passed his gratitude to those on deployment for their unwavering commitment in supporting the government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Cele also paid tribute to security forces that lost their lives during the lockdown.

“We pay tribute to five members of the security forces who have lost their lives during the lockdown. Just yesterday (Wednesday) in Gauteng, a female detective sergeant was shot and killed in Sebokeng last night, while a member of the SANDF lost his life at a roadblock after a truck driver lost control and crashed onto the embankment, landing on the soldier who was declared dead on the scene. Another soldier also lost his life in an accident in Mpumalanga over the weekend, while two SAPS members were buried in Limpopo and the Northern Cape, respectively after they were both killed in the line of lockdown duty.”

Lockdown roadblocks and crime

Cele says over 190 roadblocks have been held daily throughout the country. 681 vehicle checkpoints have been mounted. The police, soldiers and other law enforcers have conducted raids, which have resulted in the closure of alcohol outlets and other non-essential businesses such as mines and factories.

Cele says the deployment of law enforcement and the prohibition of the sale of alcohol have resulted in a drop of crime rates throughout the country.

“Due to the lockdown, the heightened visibility, reinforced by the deployment of the SANDF and other variables such as the prohibition of the sale of liquor, we have seen a significant drop across most crime categories.”

The minister says that he will give comprehensive crime figures after the lockdown.

In the video below, Bheki Cele tells South Africans to stop asking that bottle stores be opened. 

Domestic violence

The minister says his department has also noted a significant decrease in domestic-related crimes compared to March-April 2019 stats. Cases have decreased by 69.4% from 9 990 cases between 29 March and 22 April 2019 to 3 061 since the start of the lockdown until 20 April 2020.

Cele says most perpetrators are known to the victims, which is a course for concern.

“In four of the incidents during the lockdown, the boyfriends were allegedly killed by their girlfriends and in two of these incidents, the murder was a result of an argument over liquor. In one incident, the boyfriend refused to go out to buy liquor and in the other incident, the couple was under the influence of alcohol.”

By the end of the initial 21-day lockdown, Cele says almost 107 000 cases were opened and over 118 000 people charged for crimes such as illegal gatherings, crimes related to liquor, and failure to confine to places of residence among others.

“From those arrested, 42 388 are before different courts across the country, while the rest have either been granted bail, issued with fines, or released with a warning to appear before court,” says the minister in a statement.

In the video below, Chairperson of the Black Women Caucus Keitumetse Fatimata Moutloats talks about domestic violence during the lockdown. 

Police arrested

Cele says 131 law enforcers, including two sergeants from Katlehong, Gauteng, have been arrested for a variety of charges, including demanding bribes from businesses.

“The members we have arrested face a variety of charges relating to the prohibition of the selling of liquor during the lockdown where some were caught drinking; some buying and selling liquor; some for corruption and defeating the ends of justice; some for organising gatherings in contravention of the regulations; some even going as far as allegedly staging break-ins in the Western Cape just to go and steal alcohol from closed liquor outlets.”

Cele says the SAPS COVID-19 National Steering Committee is working around the clock to ensure the wellness of members during the lockdown.

In the statement below, Minister Bheki Cele assesses adherence to lockdown regulations: