Police Minister Bheki Cele has accused some foreign tourists to South Africa of ‘undermining’ the local state by continuing to visit beaches in SA; and has announced that the army will be helping police today to enforce the beach ban. He’s also onto those restaurants that are serving alcohol in teapots!
All beaches in SA are currently off-limits due to the high spread of Covid-19. Over 500 people died in South Africa in the past 24 hours. Addressing the media this morning from the Garden Route, where beach patrols will be held today, Cele said that yesterday they had visited four places on the West Coast… where on the whole compliance was much better, with the exception of Langebaan where foreigners were arrested.
Cele said: “People were still surfing and all that. It is unfortunate that we had to do some few arrests there. But I must also say that, I guess people that were arrested were foreign nationals – which is people come from Europe. I don’t know why would they do that here, when they know that there is a Lockdown in Europe. I’m sure it’s some kind of undermining the state authority here.”
A French tourist who visited Cape Town told SAPeople: “Yes, countries like France are under a type of Lockdown, but our beaches are not off limits. It’s confusing when the indoor shopping malls in SA are still open. But anyway, I don’t think the South African police should take this personally. The same people who ignore the beach rules in SA, would also ignore them back home.”
Army will join SAPS on the Garden Route
The Police Minister said that today he and his team are on the “famous” Garden Route, whose beaches were banned before the rest of the Western Cape’s as the Garden Route was identified as a Covid hot spot.
Cele said they’ve received information that there “is some form of undermining the authority here”. He said: “We are here to assess and see what next we are supposed to do.”
He said that although he’s been told the situation is improving, there are still incidents on the vast 57 beaches in the area of people returning to the beach after law enforcement has told them to leave.
“For that reason, today we expect to be reinforced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). We expect them to be here today, and begin to be deployed to assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) members to enforce the law, the regulation, that says people shouldn’t be on the beach.”
Other non-compliance arrests related to curfews and alcohol sales
Cele said people have been arrested around the country for non-compliance with wearing a mandatory face mask, and pointed out “you end up with a criminal record that you’re not supposed to have, and it’s not a good thing to have”. He said some have also been arrested for breaking the curfew over 9pm, and others for refusing to comply with the ban on alcohol sale and consumption in public places. He said SAPS has received information about people going underground to sell alcohol, and warned that their licenses will be taken from them and they may not be able to trade when restrictions are lifted.
One social media user on SAPS Facebook page said: “People are chopping heads off in Shallcross, here you are madala worried about Karen in a bikini on the beach.”
Cele revealed police numbers are down with over 300 infected and around 800 isolating (many of whom were in contact with Covid-positive patients).
Asked why the police would focus on the beaches when there are more serious crimes, and the police force is weakened, Cele said it’s “painful that ordinary South Africans that are supposed to be thinking for themselves” need law enforcement to remind them not to break the law. He said these current restrictions are necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that people in the water and on the beach need to be arrested, as they were.
“Why should police come and remind you that this is a hot spot, people are sick, people are dying. And you don’t appreciate that. It’s something that South Africans sometimes you really fail to get into their heads, to find out how do they think.”
He says he believes that the presence of the SANDF will help on the Garden Route, as well as helping SAPS deal with “ordinary crime”. He said whilst most figures are better – house robberies and rape cases are unfortunately high again, including on the Garden Route.
The police minister urged South Africans to help SAPS by complying to the Lockdown restrictions, this would “allow law enforcement to concentrate on preventing and responding to crime”.
Teapots are for rooibos, not alcohol
Cele reminded South Africans they cannot go on beaches, rivers, lakes, parks or shebeens right now, and that nor can alcohol be served in restaurants.
“We are beginning to look at restaurants with a very hot eye,” said Cele. “I’m told some restaurants they serve their alcohol in teapots! Teapots are for Rooibos! Not for cognac and gin and all that.”
‘Family meeting’ imminent
The NCCC is meeting Wednesday morning and there is likely to be a ‘family meeting’ in the “near future”, said Cele, referring to an address from the President to the nation is imminent.