Lockdown arrests: Cele clarifies the total number is more than 17 000
Bheki Cele initially said there had been 2 298 arrests. Little did we know that was only the number for one day of lockdown – 30 March.
Police Minister Bheki Cele clarified that there have been more than 17 000 arrests — 17 209 to be exact — throughout the country since day one of lockdown on Friday 27 March.
On Tuesday 2 April, Cele said at the inter-ministerial committee briefing in Pretoria, that there had only been about 2 298 arrests. For those of us who thought that was the nationwide total, we were wrong — it was actually just the total number for 30 March.
Lockdown arrests reach more than 17 000
Cele said there have been a large number of people violating the lockdown laws and regulations, resulting in the high number of arrests — this only in the first week of lockdown.
“What has been a dampener since the beginning of the lockdown has been the consistently high number of people arrested for violating the lockdown regulations,” said Cele citing 2 298 arrests just on 30 March 2020.
Acting police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said that by close of business on 31 March, the total sum of arrests had reached over 17 000 since the kick-off of the lockdown.
The provincial breakdown of total arrests are as follows:
- Gauteng – 1 888
- Western Cape – 4 769
- KwaZulu Natal – 1 845
- Eastern Cape – 1 613
- Northern Cape – 832
- North West – 1 562
- Free State – 3 098
- Mpumalanga – 752
- Limpopo – 850
- Total – 17 209
The Western Cape has recorded the highest number of arrests during lockdown.
Disregard of lockdown regulations
According to Cele, offences have varied between transport- and liquor-related offences, as well as general non-compliance with the regulations.
“Ideally, we would prefer that our communities and all stakeholders cooperate and comply to minimise the risk of exposure of both themselves as well as our 24 389 law enforcement members to the COVID-19. We really do not want to arrest people but to contain the spread of the virus,” said Cele.
Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Metro Police departments and all law enforcement agencies will remain on deployment throughout the lockdown period.
Cele reiterated the need by provinces to align themselves to the national regulations and not to unilaterally sanction their own unauthorised province-specific version of the regulations as this ends up confusing the public and of more concern, confusing the law enforcement agencies who are expected to enforce the regulations.
Amendments to the regulations now also allow certain individuals to move between provinces, metropolitan and district areas for the purpose of transporting bodies for burial.
“We have been inundated with volumes of calls from families seeking clarification or intervention or sometimes even permits relating to travelling to the funerals of their loved ones. Most such calls came from the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape and two particular police stations mentioned were Arbedeen and Aliwal North,” said Cele.
Meanwhile, certain categories of individuals closely related to the deceased, are permitted to travel to funerals.
In response to another area of confusion, Cele also clarified and emphasised that cigarettes are not an essential item and that the sale thereof is prohibited across the country.