South Africa: Police Urged to Clamp Down On Covid-19 Regulation Contraveners

Police Minister Bheki Cele has called on police officers to strengthen their resolve in clamping down on COVID-19 lockdown regulation contraventions during the festive season.

The Minister made these remarks during a law enforcement parade in Limpopo on Thursday.

During the provincial inspection tour which was aimed at ensuring that citizens and holidaymakers enjoy and safe festive season, the Minister also visited the Musina border post

“Your [aw enforcement agencies] job description is mandated by the Constitution of the land; it is to prevent, combat, investigate, uphold the law and ensure that inhabitants are safe. Nowhere does it say you take bribes.

“It is your job to protect and prevent. You must remember that as law enforcement, your job is to preserve human life [and that] you do it with passion and empathy.”

The Minister expressed concern that commentators and experts were only calling on police officers to exercise restraint and execute roles and responsibilities responsibly but were not urging the public to behave and respect laws.

“South Africans must learn to behave. Yes, extra care from you is expected, but South Africans are not there to break the law as they wish. We know what to do and not what to do,” he said.

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that areas with the highest rate of infection, beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from 16 December 2020 to 3 January 2021.

This applies to all of the Eastern Cape, as well as to the Garden Route district in the Western Cape. In KwaZulu-Natal, beaches and public parks will be closed on what are traditionally the busiest days of the season.

These days are the 16th, 25th, 26th and 31st of December 2020 and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of January 2021.

The beaches and public parks of the Northern Cape and the Western Cape – with the exception of the Garden Route – will remain open to the public over the festive season.

Cele said while Limpopo has no beaches, police should not rest on their laurels.

He ordered police to intensify the clampdown on illegal shebeens, saying these establishments remain the main generator of criminal activity.

Compliance with COVID-19 regulations

Vigilance, he said, needed to be heightened during this period as the country grapples the COVID-19 and gender-based violence pandemics.

He said while it was critical to monitor public compliance with regulations, police officers should also protect their own health. Since March, the SAPS has recorded 19 203 COVID-19 infections, of which 290 resulted in associated deaths.

“[COVID-19 is] back, it is vicious, it kills, and we want to be with you for a long time. There are no parties, there is no John Vul’ iGate [in reference to Kwaito song]. When people have parties, close them down,” he said.

COVID-19 regulations restrict the gathering of more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor gatherings.

“All businesses close at 10 pm and when you move around and they are not closed, close them and let people go home. Anyone not home by 11, accompany them home,” Cele said.

Tackling crime

The Minister also turned his attention to violent crime.

“South Africans can’t be murdered, killed and raped when they have the SAPS. That doesn’t mean you must die – defend yourselves to the maximum. Teachers have chalks, doctors are given stethoscopes, so do you have tools of trade; use them.”

The Minister also warned police officers who turn away complaints of domestic abuse, saying officers who dismiss the complainants will be dismissed.

“When women report [their] partners, it is your responsibility to respond to these complaints. Don’t tell them to go back home and negotiate, you go and arrest the perpetrator. Under no circumstances do you turn women away. We are going to [be] tough, you will lose jobs on this issue,” he said.

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