This was revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Sunday at the culmination of ministerial visits to provinces to assess the enforcement of the laws. Cele and his Deputy Minister, Cassel Mathale, on Friday engaged with the management of the South African Police Service on progress.
In a joint statement with the SAPS management, Cele expressed gratitude to the police, South African Defence Force, Metro Police Departments and other law enforcement agencies for their unwavering commitment and resilience in support of government’s efforts to combat the global pandemic.
Among the niggling challenges authorities were grappling with was that they were still arresting people for possessing fraudulent lockdown permits; failure to confine themselves to places of residence; and illegal gatherings.
However, the violation of regulations prohibiting the sale of liquor was the biggest headache to law enforcement.
In a statement, Cele expressed gratitude to the majority of society for respecting the lockdown. He singled out those who alerted authorities to those breaking the law.
“These arrests can be avoided if people can listen and adhere to government’s call to stay home for their own protection against the corona virus,” said the Minister.
He also appealed to civil society to work with and support government’s priority to get everyone to stay home. This would minimise the burden on security forces in relation to policing during the lockdown.
Responding to reports of police members arrested for contravening the lockdown regulations, including liquor related crimes, Minister Cele condemned the acts of criminality by a small percentage of members.
With the lockdown extended for another two weeks, Cele urged the members to maintain the work protecting citizens against the virus within the confines of the law.
Two officers killed
The Minister paid tribute to two police officers who were killed in the line of duty the lockdown. Constable Percy Ramalepe, 33, of Sandton Vispol was shot and killed while responding to a complaint of domestic violence in Sandton on 9 April.
The suspect allegedly then turned the gun on himself, fatally wounding himself. Ramalepe was buried on Saturday in Giyani, Limpopo.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Steven Damoense, also 33, from the Northern Cape Organised Crime Unit was also buried on Saturday, in Delportshoop. Damoense. He was stabbed to death by a suspect on 30 March in Rietvale, Modderrivier. The suspect has since been arrested.
Cele urged SAPS management to ensure that members are at all times protected against possible infection of the Coronavirus, and that they are adequately equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
“That there are a number of police members who have tested positive for the Coronavirus is no anomaly and it is for this reason that we are appealing to members of the public to do the right thing and stay home to protect our members who are out there on the streets, exposed and vulnerable to infection and spreading of the virus,” said the Minister.