The first weekend of lockdown alert level 2 and unbanning of alcohol sales saw a number of fatal vehicle accidents across the country, including that of three Tshwane Metro Police Department officers.
And as news of the death of the officers spread yesterday, so did the hashtag #alcoholban trend on social media.
Metro police spokesperson Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said the officers had been chasing a suspected drunk driver on the N4 between Trans Orange Road and Rebecca Street in Pretoria West in the early hours of yesterday morning.
They had spotted a vehicle driving recklessly and facing oncoming traffic in the CBD.
They tried to stop the vehicle, which was heading in a westerly direction, but the driver continued, prompting the police to call for back-up.
They were joined by another team of three male officers, which was in the area.
The back-up vehicle was then involved in a head-on collision with the fleeing vehicle. All three officers died on the scene.
The driver of the vehicle being chased also died, while his female passenger was rushed to hospital.
A variety of empty and full alcohol bottles were found in the suspect’s vehicle.
Mahamba said the officers operated on the roads and had been with the department for five years.
He added the department would release the identities after informing their families.
In Benoni, five people were killed and one injured when two vehicles collided.
Both drivers are suspected to have been under the influence of alcohol.
MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko said it was sad that in less than a week since the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol, the horrific Tshwane law enforcement deaths had occurred.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula commended the officers for pursuing the vehicle and expressed sadness at the tragic turn of events.
Mbalula and Mahamba were scheduled to meet the bereaved family members today in Pretoria West.