Police minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that the SAPS have made more than 20,000 Covid-related arrests for failing to comply with the restrictions in South Africa’s adjusted level 3 lockdown.
In an eNCA interview on Tuesday, Cele said that 20,116 people were arrested for failing to comply with the new restrictions, with 7,000 of those arrests carried out for failing to wear masks. The majority of the arrests are related to illegal alcohol operations, but Cele has said that most people are now complying with the law requiring people to wear masks.
“We have found better compliance, maybe because people are realising that the situation is serious but also because we can now enforce the (failure) to wear a mask,” Cele said, according to BusinessTech. “The police will arrest those people who break the law.”
Cele also warned that South Africans should be wary of the fact that Covid-related arrests will result in charges and could result in a criminal record.
“Since we’ve [moved] to level 3, wearing a mask has become mandatory and [can result in] a criminal record,” he continued. “Before that we were urging people to wear masks. But if you asked me what I could do [beforehand], I’d say nothing, because there was nothing I could do.
“When we arrest you, we take you to the police station, take your fingerprints and you can choose to pay a fine or go to the magistrate’s [court],” he added. “And in both of those cases, it will result in a criminal record and this is what I want South Africans to be wary of.”