Law enforcement agencies have arrested 2 289 suspects for non-compliance with COVID-19 National State of Disaster regulations, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Thursday.
Speaking at a media briefing held in Pretoria, the Minister urged the public to observe and comply with the regulations.
“They must stick with them so that we are not forced to enforce the law. From the 27 [March 2020], until midnight, 2289 people have been arrested for breaking those regulations, especially alcohol and traffic offenses,” said the Minister.
The arrests come as South Africa today marks day 7 of the 21-day national lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month.
Cele said about 24 389 law enforcers made up of the South African Police Service (SAPS); the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and metro police units have been deployed to enforce the regulations.
He urged the public to observe and comply with the regulations in place.
The Minister also urged provincial governments not to formulate their own regulations, saying national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister is the sole custodian of the regulations.
“These regulations are national regulations. There are no provincial or municipal regulations, so what is done in Limpopo, is also done in the Western Cape. We hear that some provinces will relax some regulations … they shouldn’t complain because police will not implement the so-called provincial regulations, they’ll stick to the national regulations.”
The Minister’s comments come as South Africa now has 1 462 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with five recorded deaths. Two other deaths are yet to be confirmed.
The Minister emphasised that police would not hesitate to arrest those who are not complying with the regulations.
At the briefing, Cele also announced that at least 87 000 cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) have been reported to police stations across the country in the last seven days.
“If not mistaken, the last number we’ve received as the NATJOINTS [ National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure] is that since it started,[the national lockdown] 87 000 people have phoned in reporting that there might be gender-based violence in their houses,” said the Minister.
However, Cele could not say how many arrests had been made in this area.