Family members of a woman who was allegedly wrongfully arrested on a charge of selling alcohol in contravention of lockdown regulations are seeking answers.

The family says Zipho Mkhize and her sister had purchased liquor in bulk before the lockdown started as they were preparing to host traditional ceremonies in June. The wedding and the exchange of gifts ceremony were postponed due to lockdown, leaving the family with stocks of alcohol and food.

The Mkhize family is living in fear in KwaDabeka, outside Pinetown, after their home was raided by police in July and one of the family members was allegedly wrongfully arrested for selling alcohol during the lockdown.

It’s alleged that police stormed Zipho Mkhize’s house after receiving a tip-off that the family is selling alcohol during lockdown level 3.

The family says liquor worth R20 000 was being stored at the woman’s house for months but police accused her of selling it.

The family says they produced proof that the liquor was purchased long before the lockdown started and was meant for a traditional ceremony.

Ban on sale of alcohol

The first COVID-19 lockdown ban on the sale of alcohol was imposed on the 27th of March. It was briefly lifted on the 1st of June before being reinstated on the 13th of July.

Although the charges against Mkhize have been withdrawn by the court, the family is demanding that police return the liquor they confiscated.

Mkhize’s sister, Ntombizodwa Mkhize, who is the owner of the alcohol says she presented herself to police with proof that the alcohol was for a ceremony, but the police allegedly insisted that they would arrest her sister.

“I introduced myself to the police saying that I was the sister of the person arrested. I tried to tell them that I was the owner of the liquor and presented my bank statements and till slips. even the invitation cards but they did not want to listen to me.”

The 73-year old Thembisile Mkhize who owns the house where alcohol was confiscated is still angry about how they were treated by the police.

“I become emotional when I think about what happened on that day. I can’t even sleep at night. My daughter who was arrested is helping the community.  while I was asking them what have I done,  one of the police officers pushed me with his finger asking where is my God now. I cried not knowing what I did wrong,” says Thembisile Mkhize.

Zipho Mkhize, a social worker and the founder of Katsi Youth in Action, an organisation that helps to rehabilitate young drug addicts says she plans to take legal action against the police for wrongful arrest.

“As the family, we are planning to demand that the kwaDabeka police station return back the liquor to the family. As the family, we are planning with the lawyer to take further legal steps against police officers who did this to the family and who also did this to me.  Because it was totally unacceptable what they did to me and to my entire family.”

The police have confirmed that the matter was not enrolled in court, but says they cannot comment on why the matter was withdrawn because they are still waiting for the docket to be returned to the police station.