LIST: Cele on law enforcement operations during lockdown

Police Minister, Bheki Cel says there's been a decrease in serious and violent crimes during the lockdown. Courtesy #DStv403

PRETORIA - Police Minister Bheki Cele has given an update on law enforcement operations during the lockdown.

The police minister says to date, 230,000 people have been arrested for breaking lockdown regulations and there's been a surge in the illegal trading of liquor and cigarettes along our borders.

Here are the top 10 issues addressed in his media briefing;

  • Police have completed two major drug busts in the past week alone

“A lot of other crime-fighting successes have been achieved during the lockdown. For instance, we have had two major drug busts just in this past week alone. Police in Eastern Cape on Wednesday confiscated drugs (mandrax and dagga) worth an estimated value of about R4-million during a routine inspection at a Health Checkpoint outside Middelburg in the Eastern Cape. Two suspects, both foreign nationals, were arrested. On Monday the 18th May, members of the Hawks intercepted a truck which was en route to Cape Town, and found in a container cocaine worth over R30,4-million. A 37-year old suspect was arrested.”


  • Decline in domestic violence, house and business robberies, as well as hijackings

“In relation to serious and violent crime, we announced in April that there was a dramatic decline in especially the contact crime category which includes domestic violence, as well as in trio crimes which include house and business robberies as well as hijackings.”


  • An increase in gender-based violence-related calls received by the call centre

While not undermining the gravity of the scourge of GBV in the country, it is important to clarify that this increase is actually in relation to the number of distressed calls made to the GBV Command Centre, and not necessarily reported cases.


  • 230 000 people charged for contravention of the lockdown regulations

“At one point towards the end of April when we were still on Level 5, we had about 107 000 cases opened with 118 000 people charged for contravention of the lockdown regulations. In just over a month, this number has more than doubled and is almost at 230, 000 for contraventions.”


  • Provinces with the highest number of arrests for contravention of the lockdown regulations almost mirror the provincial COVID-19 infection rates

“Provinces with the highest number of arrests for contravention of the lockdown regulations almost mirror the provincial infection rates with the Western Cape in the lead, followed by Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.”


  • Increase in smuggling of liquor and tobacco between SA’s land borders

“We have also observed an increase in smuggling of contraband (liquor and tobacco) between South Africa’s land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as the sale of these products in the black market. Our lockdown partners the SANDF, have disrupted some of these illegal operations mainly along South Africa’s borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe; and confiscated contraband including alcohol and cigarettes worth about R1,07-million in March and R1,6-million in April.”


  • Police officers infected by the coronavirus

So far, we have 611 members that have tested positive for the COVID-19 and 101 recoveries, with the Western Cape leading with 441. Eastern Cape follows with 47 positive cases.


  • Western Cape police stations hardest hit so far

"There are about 121 stations countrywide and 40 units where members have tested positive and the premises contaminated. With the Western Cape being the hardest hit province so far, it is reported that at least 19 stations have had to be decontaminated again."


  • Complaints against police for heavy-handedness

"We have noted complaints relating to an incident where a journalist was allegedly assaulted by the police in Ficksburg and has since fled to Lesotho. We confirm that this matter is now with the IPID and under investigation."


  • Firearm Amnesty ending 31 May

"With the Firearm Amnesty period about to expire at the end of this month, we have been receiving a number of enquiries on whether or not this will be extended. We have written to Parliament to request for an extension after noticing the sharp decline in voluntary handovers during the lockdown.

Since December, firearms and ammunition were handed in their thousands, and then in April, only 385 were handed in.

We believe this sharp decline since April may be because of the lockdown which has limited the movement of people, as the handing over of firearms is not necessarily categorised as an essential service.

We appreciate the over 16 000 surrendered firearms thus far, including 795 estate firearms, as well as over 140, 000 ammunition handed in."

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