Apr 22, 2020 17:37 UTC
  • South Africa: Police officers detained for flouting lockdown orders

Scores of government officials, including 89 police officers, have been arrested for flouting South Africa's coronavirus regulations, many of them for selling confiscated liquor, the police minister said on Wednesday.

"Altogether 131 people including officials, councillors, health officials, correctional services, have been arrested," Police Minister Bheki Cele told the media in Durban. "Out of those, 89 of them are South African Police Service members."

Cele said many of the officers had been arrested for selling liquor they had confiscated from members of the public.

More than 20,000 police officers have been deployed along with the military to enforce a five-week lockdown under which alcohol sales are prohibited.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week rejected mounting calls to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol. Several shuttered liquor outlets have been looted since the lockdown was imposed last month.

The police minister has credited a major fall in violent crimes to the alcohol ban. In all, more than 118,000 people have been charged for contravening the lockdown rules, Cele said.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Tuesday paid a fine equivalent to $53 (49 euros) for ignoring the stay-at-home order.

She has been placed on leave. A platinum mining company executive was last week released on a 60,000-rand ($3,200) bail for reportedly instructing miners to return to work despite a ban on mining that was in place at the time.

South Africa considers flexible restrictions after lockdown

In a separate development on Wednesday, South Africa was considering introducing flexible restrictions on economic activity after it phases out a nationwide lockdown.

An “alert system” comprised of five levels would identify which sectors are allowed to operate under different risk scenarios and enable the government to alter restrictions swiftly for different parts of the country.

Africa’s most advanced economy last month imposed some of the world’s strictest measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial 21-day lockdown has already been extended by two weeks and is now due to expire on April 30.