When lockdown regulations were slightly eased from level 5 to level 4, it was still meant to maintain strict citizen discipline, but more laws have been broken since 1 May, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“Things are similar to [level] 5, but it looks like there is more breaking of the law under level 4. It has been decided that there are places that can be 4 and 5. We [will be able to] recommend [that],” he said on Monday.
Cele was speaking to a contingent of journalists outside the Edendale Mall in Pietermaritzburg. He was there to inspect the level of compliance in the city.
He said he felt that people think level 4 is “nothing”.
He also, again, trumpeted his support for a ban on alcohol.
“[When we came to] level 4… most people thought we were opening up. Under level 5, 10 were arrested for alcohol offences. But since level 4, there were almost 60 offences for dispensing and transporting alcohol.”
Cele said the alcohol ban had dramatically reduced violent crime throughout SA.
Hospitals have more resources
While visiting the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg on Saturday, he said he was told that violent cases had almost completely reduced in the area.
“Three people came in after a shooting. [Officials] are saying that, since lockdown [started], that was the first stabbing and shooting incidents.”
Cele said officials at the hospital were also able to give proper care to patients because there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of violent-crime patients to deal with.
“The unavailability of alcohol has opened up hospitals for everybody to give the space to those who need help.”
He said they had arrested the rival bootleg alcohol “gangsters” who were responsible for the shooting.
“We arrested the gangsters fighting over alcohol being sold in one township. Home brew is not allowed – even if you have it, it is not allowed to be dispensed.”
He said home-brewed products were a more serious issue in Gauteng townships and they arrested several people related to the matter.
Police work is not office-based
Cele also said that “at a certain given point, people have to go back to their lives”, but that police had learnt a lot from the Covid-19 lockdown.
“We believe there are lessons we have learnt. We have learnt policing is not office work. It is being out there. It has contributed a lot to the reduction of crime.”
He added: “Alcohol is not just a question of entertainment. There is a lot of death and crime that comes from this. We believe we will have to fight this with new laws.”