Everyone attending the wedding, including the pastor, was arrested.
Durban – A bride, groom, their entourage and wedding guests were arrested for allegedly organising and taking part in a wedding despite government regulations banning large gatherings due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Police officers and SANDF members stopped the wedding and arrested 53 people in eNseleni, outside eMpangeni, at the weekend.
The arrests came after a whistle-blower told the police a wedding was taking place in the area.
According to sources, when the police arrived, the pastor was taking the couple through their marriage vows. “The police and soldiers were armed to the teeth and they stormed the tent where the wedding was taking place and arrested everyone,” said a source.
In a video, the bride is seen in her wedding dress being led to a police van, the groom is seen holding the dress to ensure it is not damaged.
The police van appeared to be from the eMpangeni police station.
In the same video, the bridegroom also gets into the police van, while other police vehicles take the arrested wedding guests to the police station.
According to the source, the presence of the pastor raised eyebrows, as he is believed to also be a medical doctor. However, this could not be verified.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed the arrest of people for contravening the regulations that were imposed during the lockdown by getting married or attending the wedding.
“We arrested 53 people, including the bridegroom, his bride and the pastor for violating the Disaster Management Act,” said Naidoo.
He told eNCA that members of the public were giving them information on illegal gatherings because they were concerned about the spread of the coronavirus.
He urged people to stop trying to have secret gatherings, saying the police would continue to arrest them.
#CityOfuMhlathuze More than 50 people arrested in a wedding at Nseleni outside Richards Bay today for contravening the#COVID2019#lockdown regulations@ZOPublications@GCIS_KZN@ecr9495@ukhozi_fm@eNCA@SAPoliceService@Sandford_Police@SALGA_Gov lpic.twitter.com/NaMagUWpUg
— uMhlathuze (@UmhlathuzeM)April 5, 2020
UMhlathuze Municipality released a statement criticising the conduct of the bridegroom and bride and those who attended the wedding. The municipality said 76 people had been arrested since the lockdown for various violations of the regulations.
Mayor Mduduzi Mhlongo said it was disappointing people were continuing to go against regulations.
“We arrested 50 people at an illegal wedding at eNseleni. We also arrested a pastor who was officiating at the ceremony and all those who were in attendance. We want to make an appeal to our people to listen to what the government is saying. The number of people infected with the coronavirus is increasing and that is why it is so important for people to stay at home. We commend those who have listened to the instructions,” said Mhlongo.
He said those arrested for violating the regulations included people who were selling alcohol, those who were in the country without permits and four who were enjoying themselves at the Richards Bay Civic Centre Park.
This is the second couple to be arrested for organising a wedding during the lockdown after newlyweds from Nkandla were arrested last week.
Jabulani Zulu, 48, and his wife, Nomthandazo, 38, were not deterred by the 21-day lockdown and got married last week. But after they had said their “I dos”, and their hundreds of guests were about to enjoy the feast, police ended the celebrations, arrested the couple, and dispersed the crowd. The couple appeared in the Nkandla Magistrate’s Court and were granted bail of R1 000 each.