Home South African Cele blasts liquor outlets for flouting lockdown regulations

Cele blasts liquor outlets for flouting lockdown regulations

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The minister expressed “shock and disgust” at those who were already violating the regulations, including owners of liquor outlets.

File image. Picture Lulama Zenzile

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele has blasted liquor outlets who continue to violate relaxed national lockdown regulations by cramming patrons in their establishments beyond operating hours and without Covid-19 preventative measures.

Cele briefed the media on Tuesday on the continued role of law enforcement after President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced that Covid-19 restrictions would be further eased since they were introduced in March by the government in response to the spread of the pandemic.

Cele warned that the perpetrators would be brought to book during alert level 1.

He expressed “shock and disgust” at those who were already violating the regulations, including owners of liquor outlets.

“This past weekend I joined the operations checking on the compliance in Ekurhuleni in the Gauteng province. During the multidisciplinary operation between the SAPS, SA national Defence Force and the provincial traffic law enforcements, we came across several shebeens and taverns operating way past the stipulated 10pm curfew under level 2,” he said.

He accused some of the outlets, including restaurants, of squeezing patrons inside their premises with shut doors and windows to make it look as if it had closed while drinking and socialising continued inside.

“Establishments in other parts of the country are undertaking the illegal practice that is putting money before people’s health.”

Cele warned the outlets in question could see themselves stripped of their operating licences.

Cele also pointed out that while the country was now on the lowest alert level, law enforcement would continue on the remaining restrictions with transgressors facing punishment.

“Police will continue to enforce the curfew which starts from midnight until 4am. The sale of liquor is permitted from 9am to 5pm during the week and no alcohol can be sold for offsite consumption over the weekend or on public holidays,” he said.

He also revealed that 310 494 people had been arrested since the start of the lockdown in March for the violations of the regulations, with their offences relating to liquor, transport and cross border crimes.

Most of the arrests took place in the Western Cape with a total of 72 137 people nabbed followed by Gauteng with 59 000 arrests.

Cele said the coronavirus had also been hard on the SAPS, with 16 539 officers having been infected so far.

“The virus has claimed the lives of 215 men and women in blue. However, we remain encouraged by the high recovery rate of over 15 000 members who have won the battle against the virus and are back in serving the communities.”

Cele reiterated that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) remained rife during the lockdown, adding that the government had pinned down 30 GBVF hotspots based on the number of cases reported, among other variables.

“These cases include rape, human trafficking for sexual offences, kidnapping for sexual offences and domestic violence,” he said.

Cele also maintained that police stations in the identified hotspots were now required to have permanent desks dedicated to GBVF.

“This will go a long way in ensuring that victims of gender crimes are responded to by trained officers in a professional way. The dedicated desk will reduce the risk of ill-treatment at the hands of officers as we have seen in some instances,” he said.