In a reply to crime activist Yusuf Abramjee sharing a video of SA Police Service members raiding a Muslim prayer facility that was evidently in breach of lockdown regulations, EFF leader Julius Malema expressed his support for the work of the police.
Abramjee later tweeted: “Remember, all places of worship are CLOSED during the #Lockdown – Abide by the rules. If you don’t, you face arrest. There is no need to defy the law. Everyone must co-operate.”
He also confirmed that 17 people were arrested at a building in Pretoria West on Friday where they were found praying. The men were released on bail on Saturday, he said.
Religious gatherings have been outlawed during the lockdown, and will likely continue to be even once restrictions start to be gradually lifted from the end of the month as the country moved into level 4 of lockdown alert levels.
In the video, a group of Muslims can be seen at Friday prayers ahead of Ramadan with no one observing any social distancing measures.
The police can be heard chastising the group, and informing them they are all under arrest. One man who appears to explain something in mitigation is told, “You are an adult,” along with being told that they are blatantly ignoring a measure decided on by the president of the country.
“You mean the president is crazy,” the police ask them.
Controversially, one of the officers can be heard challenging the worshippers with a comment asking: “Are you bigger than the president? Heh? Or Muhammad is bigger than the president?”
Although Abramjee did not explicitly criticise the police or offer any opinion on these arrests in his initial video, he was nevertheless called out for alleged double standards (see below), as he had described a wedding in KZN as being in breach of the lockdown, while he did not say that about the prayer facility.
Malema, however, defended the work of the police and said they had done nothing wrong.
“Rubbish, nothing wrong here. We must all comply with the lockdown regulations irrespective of our background, colour, and religion.”
Rubbish, nothing wrong here. We must all comply with the lockdown regulations irrespective of our background, color, and religion. Attack @SAPoliceService
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) April 25, 2020
Abramjee is a hypocrite and he thinks we don’t see.
Look at the different captions for what is basically the same offense. pic.twitter.com/h5CGde6CGG
— King of Leon. (@MightiJamie) April 25, 2020
I get that…but there was no need for all the drama. Non of the people were resisting arrest.
— Richie_Zir (@RichieMcebo) April 25, 2020
I’m Muslim and my heart goes out to them but we need to adhere and listen to the lockdown rules this is for our own benefit and lives the police cannot being blamed for doing their work for once
— M J (@MTariqpossible) April 25, 2020
Nothing new here, people were arrested from a church and a wedding for not complying with the lockdown rules pic.twitter.com/0QN91qzS7e
— king of Confesssions Keith (@KaConfessor) April 25, 2020
They did the same in Christian churches nothing new here. Bht the insults are unneccesary.
— Sonwabile Spayidile (@sosospay) April 25, 2020