Minister of Police Bheki Cele says the Western Cape has reinstated a ban on the sale of cigarettes during the lockdown period.

This after Western Cape Premier Alan Winde eased the ban on Thursday, saying cigarettes could be bought together with essential goods.

Winde says he was in contact with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday morning about concerns on the interpretation for the regulations related to essential goods following the national lockdown.

The sale of cigarettes has been banned during the lockdown.

Cele says Winde has failed to explain why he considered cigarettes essential goods.

“I spoke at length with the Premier of Western Cape saying please give me your evidence to say cigarettes is an essential matter. Premier couldn’t do it except that he reported me to the president and next time to say I’m saying cigarettes should not be bought. He equated cigarettes to the dry wood. Dry wood, if you don’t have electricity you make food out of it. So, food and the food chain remains essential including wood, but cigarettes cannot be. I’m told that that has been withdrawn by the Western Cape and they believe that they need to follow the national approach,” says Cele.

Warning against lockdown rules violation

Meanwhile, police have warned members of the public violating the lockdown regulations to be ready to face the full might of the law.

About 17 000 people have been arrested since the beginning of the 21-day national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The deadly virus, which was first discovered in China last December, has claimed the lives of nine South Africans and about 40 000 people died globally.

Police Spokesperson, Vishnu Naidoo, says the latest arrests include that of a Pretoria man who posted a video mocking the COVID-19 operations and a group of youth in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, who were swearing at Minister Cele on social media.

“Police in Lyttelton arrested a 23-year-old man after posting a video being very abusive saying he doesn’t care about the COVID-19. He was even seen standing in front of the police station also swearing, claiming to be taking drugs. We also arrested four people in Temba that have posted a video swearing at the Minister of Police and two people in KZN for posting fake news on social media,” says Naidoo.

In the video, Minister Bheki Cele welcomes decrease in violent crimes during lockdown: