Masks, booze and curfews – police clamp down as regulations tighten

Masks, booze and curfews – police clamp down as regulations tighten
Police Minister Bheki Cele said people can expect increased police visibility, roadblocks and patrols (where applicable) in streets, malls and other areas where ‘people ignore social distancing protocols’. (Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images))

Drinking at funerals, breaching curfew without a permit and entering public spaces without a mask are just a few actions prohibited under stricter Level 3 measures. Police Minister Bheki Cele said the latest rules were not ‘arbitrary’ or designed to ‘limit freedom’ although the government has been criticised for its heavy-handed and paternalistic approach in enforcing the lockdown.

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Wednesday 15 July outlined the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster’s (JCPS) latest measures to enforce stricter Level 3 regulations.

He said people can expect increased police visibility, roadblocks and patrols (where applicable) in streets, malls and other areas where “people ignore social distancing protocols”.

Cele spent the duration of the announcement reading robotically from his speech document. 

“There will also be random stop and search operations to ensure that the prohibition on the trade of alcohol and tobacco is not being subverted,” Cele read.

Defending the measures, Cele said they were not “arbitrary” or designed to “limit freedoms” but intended to curb social movement to “prevent the spread of the disease”.

Drink at home

“Alcohol may be consumed in private but it may not be transported, sold or dispensed at any liquor outlet, whether [it is a] bottle store, bar, shebeen and restaurant,” said Cele.

He added that vehicles were not considered private spaces. Cele warned that those flouting the alcohol and tobacco ban would be prosecuted.  

Alcohol consumption is also prohibited at funerals. 

“Please don’t make us arrest people at funerals, it’s very painful,” he said after stating that night vigils and “after tears” parties following burials were banned.

Wear a mask in public

As announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, wearing cloth masks in public is now compulsory.

“The wearing of a cloth face mask or homemade face-covering item that covers the nose and mouth is mandatory for every person when in a public space,” said Cele.

This includes operating or using public transport as well as entering public buildings. Drivers and operators of public transport and shopkeepers will be held criminally liable if anyone boards their vehicle or enters their premises without a mask, said Cele.

“They will be committing an offence and can be charged accordingly.”

Produce a permit if out during curfew

“Those who work at night or early in the morning will have to produce a permit of movement when they are requested to do so by law enforcement officials,” said the minister.

Those found breaching the 9pm to 4am curfew without a valid permit would face prosecution.

“Members of the South African Police Service, South African National Defence Force and traffic departments will be enforcing the… daily curfew.”

Public parks remain closed, except for exercise. No gatherings are allowed in public parks, or beaches, which are also closed to the public.

The consequences

“Convictions will result in either fines or jail terms, depending on the discretion of the court,” said Cele. 

The maximum jail sentence is six months.

During the question and answer session, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said both a jail term and a fine carry a criminal record.

Alcohol ban and gender-based violence

Cele briefly mentioned concerns regarding the increase in gender-based violence after the alcohol ban was lifted.

Gender-based violence is always there, but it took a serious turn from the first of June after the unbanning of alcohol… 29 women were killed,” he said.

“There is a strong belief that gender-based violence increases when there is a lot of availability of alcohol.”

Cele emphasised that the JCPS cluster is prioritising the fight against GBV, with 300 new police recruits undergoing specialised training to deal with cases while 2,000 are being retrained.

He expressed concern that GBV survivors approaching the police for assistance have been turned away and told to reconcile with perpetrators who are family members.

“Nobody should tell a woman, a child to negotiate. That is not our job as South African Police Service members. You arrest those people.” DM


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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