Despite law enforcement authorities clamping down on defiant citizens for not observing COVID-19 regulations, sections of society continue to disobey lockdown rules.
This was revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele following ministerial visits to provinces to assess enforcement of the regulations.
Cele and his deputy, Cassel Mathale, last week engaged management of the SA Police Service on progress.In a joint statement with SAPS management, Cele expressed gratitude to police, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) , Metro police departments and other law enforcement agencies for unwavering commitment and resilience in support of government efforts to combat the global pandemic.
Among niggling challenges authorities grapple with is they are still arresting people for having fraudulent lockdown permits; failure to confine themselves to places of residence and illegal gatherings.
Violation of regulations prohibiting the sale of liquor was the biggest headache for law enforcement.
In a statement, Cele expressed gratitude to the majority of society for respecting the lockdown. He singled out those who alerted authorities to regulation breakers.
“Arrests can be avoided if people listen and adhere to government’s call to stay home for their own protection against the coronavirus,” said the Minister.
He appealed to civil society to work with and support government’s priority of having everyone stay at home. This would minimise the burden on security forces during the lockdown.
Responding to reports of police arrested for contravening lockdown regulations, including liquor related crimes, Cele condemned criminality by a small percentage of members.
With lockdown extended for two weeks, Cele urged police to maintain their work protecting citizens against the virus within the confines of the law.
Two officers killed
The Minister paid tribute to two police officers killed in the line of duty during lockdown. Constable Percy Ramalepe (33) of Sandton Vispol was shot and killed responding to a domestic violence complaint in Sandton on 9 April.
The suspect allegedly fatally wounded himself after killing the policeman. Ramalepe was buried on Saturday in Giyani, Limpopo.
Sergeant Steven Damoense, also 33, from Northern Cape Organised Crime Unit was also buried on Saturday, in Delportshoop. He was stabbed to death by a suspect on 30 March in Rietvale, Modderrivier. The suspect has since been arrested.
Cele urged SAPS management to ensure members are at all times protected against possible infection and are adequately equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).
“That there are a number of police members who have tested positive for the Coronavirus is no anomaly and this is why we are appealing to the public to do the right thing and stay home and protect our members on the streets, exposed and vulnerable to infection and spreading of the virus,” said the Minister.