In addition to having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Western Cape has also found itself in Police Minister Bheki Cele’s bad books.
During a long-awaited briefing on law enforcement’s response to the nationwide lockdown, on Friday, Cele revealed that residents of the Western Cape were particularly defiant of Disaster Management Act regulations. The police minister said, “Provinces with the highest number of arrests for contravention of the lockdown regulations almost mirror the provincial infection rates with the Western Cape in the lead”
Cele added that the Western Cape was followed by the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in terms of the number of arrests made for the contravention of lockdown laws. In detailing the decreased crime rate since lockdown’s implementation, Cele also pointed to the Western Cape accounting for a large share of hijackings.
The police minister added that most contraventions related to alcohol and tobacco offences, with illegal public gatherings and unpermitted movement remaining serious challenges. Cele revealed that over 230 000 people had been charged for contravening lockdown regulations, with some citizens being released with warnings or fines while others, involved in more serious crimes, have been dealt with through the court system.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) has also been most negatively impacted by COVID-19 in the Western Cape. Cele confirmed that out of the 611 SAPS personnel who have tested positive for the coronavirus, 72% have been stationed in the Western Cape. Cele offered his condolences to the families and friends of two officers who had succumbed to COVID-19 in the Western Cape this week.
Prior to Cele address, a spate of violent truck lootings had forced the closure of Jakes Gerwel Drive in Cape Town. Police and military personnel were deployed to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha to monitor the unrest which allegedly stems from protest action over a lack of adequate government aid during lockdown.