Soldiers may be back on SA's streets to help police enforce lockdown rules - Cele

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An SANDF member, with police in the background.
An SANDF member, with police in the background.
Brenton Geach, Gallo Images
  • The SANDF may be deployed to assist police in enforcing the adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that they were in talks with the SANDF about possible assistance. 
  • The new regulations include a ban on booze, beaches and parks in hotspots and the mandatory wearing of face masks in public areas.

The redeployment of South African Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers to assist police in enforcing the adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations is on the cards. 

This according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who was briefing the media, along with other members of the National Coronavirus Command Council, on the new regulations gazetted under the Disaster Management Act on Tuesday. 

On Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving back to Level 3 of the lockdown with a number of adjusted regulations. This move was in response to the increase in Covid-19 infections as the country entered the festive season.

The adjusted regulations included the ban on all social gatherings, including faith-based gatherings, political events, and traditional council meetings, while beaches and parks have been closed in areas identified as hotspots. The prohibition of alcohol sales and distribution has also been reintroduced for a third time since the hard lockdown commenced in March, and a stricter curfew and mask wearing in public areas made mandatory.

While the wearing of masks has become compulsory under the new Disaster Management Act regulations, it only becomes a criminal offence if you fail to wear a mask after being instructed to do so by a law enforcement official.

READ | SANDF troops back in barracks after Covid-19 lockdown deployment

Cele said talks were under way about the redeployment of soldiers to help police in enforcing the adjusted regulations. 

Explaining that the SANDF deployment would not be on the same scale as the county saw during the hard lockdown earlier this year, Cele said: "Where police feel a need that they need the extra assistance, that shall be done."

He added that he had already spoken to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and that meetings were under way between the head of operations at the SANDF and the acting national police commissioner. Cele also assured South Africans that police would enforce the new regulations and that no police brutality would be tolerated. 

However, Cele urged South Africans to adhere to the new regulations so that police would not have to spend time chasing after people for contravening the Disaster Management Act.

On the liquor prohibition, the minister said police would be tough on people attempting to sell booze on the black market and that if any establishment was found selling alcohol, their operating licences would be taken away and the owners criminally charged.

"Don't put alcohol in tea pots at restaurant, don't put alcohol in bottles that say zero alcohol, we know your tricks," Cele warned. 

He further urged people to report anyone who is not isolating after testing positive for Covid-19. He said such incidents are criminal and will be treated seriously by police.

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