Police Minister Bheki Cele has vowed to crack down on illegal alcohol sales and looters who have struck several times since the lockdown began.
Cele visited Paarl and Cape Town's northern suburbs on Saturday to inspect shopping precincts.
In Mbekweni, Paarl, he was shown a liquor store which had been looted.
He later reported this was one of 17 stores robbed since the lockdown kicked in, including the ban on the sale and transport of alcohol.
Cele believed there were three types of liquor raiders: First, "spontaneous" robbers who simply took a chance and smashed-and-grabbed. Second, small syndicates of burglars and third, the serious syndicates.
He added there were also networks that were supplying certain facilities which continued to sell liquor.
Cele promised to crack down on these and warned their "infrastructure" would be confiscated, such as fridges, etc.
He called on South Africans to put their "shoulder to the wheel" and stay dry, adding there would come a time again when alcohol would be freely available.
"In the United States, the figures we got this morning is that in 24 hours, 2 000 people died … that figure can visit us here … it is a matter of life and death … the economy itself is suffering … people are losing jobs, there will be liquidations … alcohol cannot be the centre of complaint when we are dealing with such a serious problem," Cele said, standing outside a shopping centre in Brackenfell where he inspected shopping queues for strict social distancing.
"Sober up - there are serious matters here," he said, before speeding off to the airport in his convoy.