Police Minister Bheki Cele warned anyone disregarding the recently released COVID-19 state of disaster regulations would be arrested and face the full might of the law.
Section 10 of the regulations empowers the Minister of Police to issue directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in all police stations and holding cells.
“I have directed management of the SA Police Service (SAPS) to implement measures that will see all members, particularly those in contact with communities and who visit police stations, be provided with maximum protection against possible infection,” said the Minister at a joint press briefing in Pretoria.
Cele said police have procured protective gloves and hand sanitiser for police stations and holding cells. Urgent procurement processes are underway to ensure adequate supplies to all community service centres.
“I instructed SAPS management to see to it members on the ground are provided for and at the same time ensure all on duty comply with COVID-19 hygiene protocols as a matter of urgency,” Cele said.
Visits to police stations, enrolment
The Minister urged the public to avoid police station walk-ins and go only when necessary. This includes document certification, police clearance certificates and fingerprint taking for firearm renewals.
The public, he said, will be sanitised as they enter police stations.
During this period, police enrolment of 7 000 trainees will be suspended.
Police presence at establishments
On enforcement of the regulations, police are appointing spotters who will be keeping an eye on the 19 971 taverns, 11 000 bottle stores, 9 747 restaurants and 2 518 night clubs across the country.
“Police are appointing spotters, they’ll be in these places, especially areas that sell food and alcohol. At 6pm, selling and consumption of alcohol shuts down, but in places where there’s sale of food, such as restaurants and taverns selling food, that continues.
“If you buy your bottle at 5:55pm, you can’t finish it where you are having your food. You have to take it home,” he said.
Should these establishments have over 50 patrons at a time, police will disperse excess patrons.
Cele said should there be more than 50 patrons, owners and event organisers will be arrested.
This was not in gazetted regulations Cele said police called on establishments to register customers. This would assist in tracing individuals should the need arise.
The mechanism will help authorities should a patron test positive for the Coronavirus.
He reiterated police will not grant special permits for events of more than 100 people at a time.
“There’s no need to go to a police station to ask for permission. You will keep to 100, whether it’s weddings, a funeral or any other gathering. There will be no street bashes or public drinking which is illegal,” he said.
Those detained will be scanned for COVID-19 symptoms and no visits will be allowed at police cells until further notice.
With the number of people at home anticipated to rise, the SAPS will sharpen its Family Violence and Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units to ensure domestic violence and abuse cases are properly addressed.
The Minister emphasised the aim of implementing the regulations was not to punish but a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He warned faith-based organisations with intentions to defy the regulations would be closed down and their leaders arrested.