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Cele warns businesses flouting rules in name of profit: ‘Long arm of law will catch up with you’

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.

  • Bheki Cele expressed his disgust at liquor outlet owners flouting lockdown rules.
  • Just over 300 000 people have been arrested since March for contravening the Disaster Management Act.
  • Western Cape recorded just over 72 000 arrests, followed by Gauteng with 59 000 arrests.

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday expressed shock and disgust at liquor outlet owners who flouted lockdown rules in the name of profit.

“I want to express my shock and disgust about the blatant disregard of the health of our people by some liquor outlet owners. I am talking about businesses that choose to flout the rules in the name of profit,” Cele said during a virtual briefing on announcements for Level 1.

This comes after he joined police operations to check on compliance in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, this past weekend.

The operations between the South African Police Services (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and provincial traffic law enforcement discovered several shebeens and taverns operating past the 22:00 curfew under Level 2 of the lockdown.

“More disturbing, was the practice of some liquor outlets squeezing patrons inside their venues, with shut windows and doors.

“This is done to look as if the business is closed for the night, meanwhile drinking and socialising in the confined space is ongoing until the early hours of the morning,” Cele explained.

He said that there were establishments in other parts of the country also doing this, putting money before people’s health.

Cele said it was not only taverns breaking the rules, but some restaurants were also putting their customers at risk of infections.

“I want to remind all the business owners who insist on flouting the rules – the long arm of the law will catch up with you, and you will also lose your operating licence,” Cele cautioned.

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According to Cele, since the beginning of the lockdown in March, 310 494 people had been arrested and charged with contraventions of the Disaster Management Act – with violations ranging from liquor, transport, business and cross border-related offences.

In addition, the Western Cape recorded the most arrests, with 72 137, followed by Gauteng with 59 000 arrests.

Cele further reminded the public that, while some social gatherings, such as concerts/live performances were permitted, nightclubs still had to shut their doors, night vigils were not permitted and no more than 100 mourners could attend a funeral.

“The virus is still very much with us and, despite further lifting of restrictions, people need to take responsibility for their own lives and that of their loved ones,” Cele concluded.

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