The arrests were made in Pretoria and Mpumalanga.
Pretoria – The SAPS arrested 41 congregants in two separate religious gatherings over the long weekend.
In the first incident, members of the Tactical Response Team arrested 17 men on Friday at about 1pm.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the arrests came after the congregants converged in a building in Pretoria West in what appeared to be a religious gathering.
“All 17 suspects are still in police custody as we await confirmation on their nationalities from the Department of Home Affairs. They will either be released on bail, issued with a fine, and/or appear to court, depending on the preliminary investigations.”
In a second incident, 24 congregants were arrested on Saturday after they too formed part of what appeared to be a religious gathering in Masibekela in Mpumalanga.
Naidoo said contrary to various reports, it was these arrests, and not any in Pretoria, that were captured on video which went viral on social media platforms.
“In both incidents the congregants are alleged to have contravened the Regulations of the Disaster Management Act.”
He said the comment made about Prophet Muhammad, which could be heard at the end of the video, was unfortunate and it was unacceptable that someone could make such an utterance.
“Therefore, the SAPS management has directed that this matter be investigated and the person/s who made the comment about the Prophet be identified and brought to book.
“People of all religious denominations, particularly religious leaders, are once again urged to ensure total compliance with the Disaster Management Regulations Act being implemented to combat the Covid-19,” Naidoo said.
Other lockdown offenders were also arrested during a joint operation on Saturday night in Mamelodi. Present were Police Minister Bheki Cele and MEC for Public Safety Faith Mazibuko.
A tavern in Mamelodi was found operating with patrons inside drinking, and two people were arrested during the raid.
A taxi driver who tried lied to law enforcement was also arrested. Mazibuko said the driver was coming from KwaNdebele and was stopped at a roadblock. Officers found luggage and handbags.
The driver said they belonged to his daughter, only to later admit that he had passengers on board and had offloaded them before being stopped at the roadblock, to avoid arrest.
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