More than 17 000 people have been arrested countrywide over the last week for various crimes and contravening lockdown regulations.
Of those, 2 005 were released on a warning by the police and ordered to appear in court, 124 were granted police bail and 7 450 fines and 16 court summons were issued, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters.
Offences committed included breaking lockdown regulations, and varied between transport- and liquor-related offences as well as general non-compliance.
“What has been a dampener since the beginning of the lockdown has been the consistently high number of people arrested for violating lockdown regulations,” said Cele.
On 30 March 30, 2, 298 people were arrested and by the following day, the number had reached 17 000 .
“Ideally, we would prefer that our communities and all stakeholders co-operate 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.
Inundated with calls
He added the police have been inundated with calls from families seeking clarification, intervention or sometimes permits relating to travelling to the funerals of loved ones.
“Most calls came from the Western and Eastern Cape, and two particular police stations mentioned were Arberdeen and Aliwal North,” said Cele.
He added amendments to the regulations would allow certain individuals to move between provinces, metropolitan and district areas for purposes of transporting a body for burial.
Meanwhile, certain categories of individuals closely related to the deceased, are permitted to travel to funerals.
Cele said cigarettes were not an essential item and their sale were prohibited across the country.
He called on all provinces to align themselves to the national regulations, and not to unilaterally sanction their own unauthorised province-specific version to avoid confusing the public and law enforcement agencies.