Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent
In the first fortnight of the lockdown, police arrested 5 226 people countrywide for breaching lockdown provisions, mainly operating shebeens, traffic offences, operating a business without an exemption or moving aimlessly around.
Besides arresting those deliberately breaching the lockdown, police are mounting more roadblocks and have tightened vetting of motorists and Zupco passengers following a significant rise in traffic in the second week.
Motorists and bus passengers have to produce exemption letters issued to staff in essential services or give an explanation that satisfies the police at a roadblock.
Those unable to produce the letter or a satisfactory explanation are turned back and told to go home.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police were there to enforce the lockdown directive and ensure compliance.
“The number of people arrested to date has risen to 5 226,” he said. “These were arrested for various offences, including operating shebeens, traffic-related offences, operating businesses without exemptions, while those caught moving aimlessly make the highest number of culprits.
“We are urging the public to comply with every measure and the directive from the Government meant to protect everyone’s life. We are here to enforce the directive and those who choose to ignore will be arrested until there is total compliance.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said police were concerned over some individuals who were abusing their exemptions and warned that those people risked losing the privilege.
“We have noted with concern that some individuals are abusing exemptions,” he said. “Even if they are not on duty, they are finding themselves on the road doing other things. We will soon engage authorities so that those caught abusing the exemptions could be arrested and their exemptions scrapped.
“We are also aware that some motorists try to influence officers at checkpoints to allow them passage into cities and towns without exemptions or required documents which state that they offer essential services. Those people should stop that or risk being arrested.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said more police officers would be deployed in all suburbs where grain millers will be distributing maize-meal in shops to ensure there is orderly queuing.
Some supermarkets have managed to get shoppers to queue outside with correct social distancing, but others still struggle.
“Millers will be escorted by security personnel in distributing mealie-meal in various suburbs across the country so that peace and order will be maintained,” he said.
“The distribution exercise will ensure that residents do not travel to town or for long distances during this lockdown period in search of mealie-meal.”
Asst Comm Nyathi urged the public to comply with officers on duty.