7,000 people arrested for not wearing masks got criminal records – Cele

South African Minister of Police, Bheki Cele briefs media about lockdown regulations, 11 June 2020. Picture GCIS

Cele also revealed that police have arrested more than 342,000 people since the beginning of the lockdown.

Since the start of the National Lockdown in March 2020, over 342 000 people have been arrested for contravening the Disaster Management Act.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele confirmed on Tuesday that police have arrested 20,116 people between 29 December and 11 January alone.

Cele’s revelation comes after the nation address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, where he extended the country’s level 3 lockdown period.

The president announced that alcohol sales and some gatherings would remain prohibited under the adjusted level 3 strategy and that the country’s land borders would also be closed until February.

Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted the lockdown regulations that amended the curfew hours to 9pm-5am.

READ MORE: Permits required for those who travel to work during curfew – NDZ and Motsoaledi explain new regulations

Cele said in a statement the offences varied among liquor-related ones and general non-compliance with the lockdown and state of disaster regulations, including not wearing masks.

“These arrests were made despite people being told continuously to wear their masks. Wearing a mask is mandatory and people caught without one in public, are committing an offence. The wearing of masks is both for your safety and the safety of others around you,” said Cele.

He noted that 834 people were arrested for liquor-related infringements such as for the sale, dispensing, distribution and transporting of alcohol.

“I want to stress the point that the law enforcement agencies do not enjoy making these arrests as these laws are there to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus that’s ravaging our country. However, officers of the SAPS are left with no choice but to act in the interest of saving lives,” Cele said.

“The regulations are among our arsenal against this deadly virus and failure to comply with them, certainly will result in more people being infected and more lives being lost,” he noted.

He reiterated that citizens needed to align themselves with the lockdown level 3 regulations.

“So far there have been 7,000 people who have been arrested for not wearing masks and whether they pay a fine or appear in court they obtain a criminal record immediately,” he said.

The minister also revealed that police have arrested more than 342,000 people since the beginning of the lockdown in March.

He further confirmed that soldiers would be stationed at various borders across the country – including Beitbridge, Maseru and Lebombo – to ensure compliance of Covid-19 regulations.

This also includes mandatory Covid-19 tests, which are required upon entry at the borders.

READ NEXT: WATCH: 12km queue at the Lebombo border post

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