By: Madineo Mofokeng
On May 22nd, Police Minister, Bheki Cele, held a media briefing to provide updates on the compliance and adherence levels to the country’s lockdown regulations.
According to the minister, the number of people charged with contravention of lockdown regulations has increased from 11,800 during level 5 to 23,000 in level 4. He reported that during his provincial visits, provinces with high levels of non-compliance, also have high numbers of confirmed Corona cases. Contraventions included liquor and cigarette related offences, illegal gatherings, business related offences, fraudulent or lack of permits amongst others. The South African Defense Force (SANDF) reported an increase in the smuggling of contraband between South Africa and some neighbouring countries. “Our lockdown partners SANDF, have disrupted some of these illegal operations mainly along South Africa’s borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” Cele said.
Concerning the firearm amnesty that commenced on December 1st 2019 and was scheduled to end on May 31st 2020, Cele mentioned that they had written to parliament to request an extension. This decision follows a noticeable decline in voluntary handovers of firearms and ammunition during the lockdown. Thus far, 16 000 firearms and 140 000 ammunition have been surrendered.
The minister further said that there had been a decrease in serious and violent crime since the lockdown began as compared to the same period in 2019. He however confirmed that there was an increase in hijackings when comparing the first two weeks of level 4 to those of level 5. Additionally, there is a 68, 4% decrease in reported domestic violence cases. Minister Cele further clarified that the media reports that claimed that Gender Based Violence has increased since the lockdown, only accounted to the increased number of distressed calls made to the GBV command centre and not necessarily reported cases. “The reasons behind the increase or decrease in crime is yet to be determined and confirmed by our Crime Analysts,” said Cele.
“So far, we have 611 members that have tested positive for the COVID-19 and 101 recoveries,” he said. Of those cases, 441 are in the Western Cape followed by the Eastern Cape with 47 positive cases. Six SAPS members succumbed to the virus and four of them were from the Western Cape.
The Western Cape is the hardest hit province thus far as 19 police stations in the province had to be decontaminated. “The occupants of the building are screened prior to reoccupation of the premises to prevent re-contamination of the premises,” said Cele. Additionally, alternative accommodation is provided so that the members of the community can still have access to services.
The minister extended his heartfelt gratitude to members from all security forces for working tirelessly during this lockdown. He also urged citizen to stay at home and exercise maximum precaution. “Remember, the virus has no feet. We as human beings, are its mode of transport,” he said.