Expect random stop searches and other clampdowns to hit South Africa: police minister

Police minister Bheki Cele says that the South African Police Service (SAPS) will ensure that South Africa’s move to stricter lockdown regulations are enforced.

In a media briefing on Wednesday (15 July), Cele said that this will include increased police visibility, roadblocks and patrols ‘where applicable’ in streets, malls and other areas where people ignore social distancing protocols.

“There will also be random stop and search operations to ensure that the prohibition on the transportation of alcohol and tobacco is not being subverted,” he said.

“Throughout all of this, law enforcement officials will be dependent on the cooperation of community members to ensure these operations are handled in the best possible spirit and with the least disruption.”

Cele said that the country’s intelligence services have also been working throughout the pandemic to help track and trace people with the coronavirus.

These services also provide valuable information on trends, patterns & manifestation of Covid-19, both at home and abroad, which has helped inform government’s response, he said.

The announcement on stricter police enforcement comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a host of new lockdown restrictions on Sunday evening (12 July).

This includes the following:

  • The wearing of cloth masks will be mandatory including stricter rules around the wearing of masks at workplaces and while travelling. Further regulations on this issue are set to be gazetted at a later date;
  • Taxis taking long trips will have to adhere to 70% occupancy. Taxis taking shorter trips may increase capacity to 100%, subject to strict health protocols;
  • The sale, dispensing and distributing of alcohol has been suspended with immediate effect;
  • A curfew will be put in place between 21h00 and 04h00, except for people who travel for work, or require urgent medical assistance. This curfew came into effect on Monday (13 July).

“Law enforcement officials have been instructed to act resolutely to enforce compliance with the regulations arresting those that breach them and ensuring that they are successfully prosecuted,” Cele said.

“Convictions will result in either fines or jail time depending on the discretion of the court.”

In addition to potential fines for purchasing alcohol and tobacco, Cele warned that those who are caught breaching curfew without a valid permit will be prosecuted.

Read: Government to meet amid growing calls to close schools in South Africa

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Expect random stop searches and other clampdowns to hit South Africa: police minister