Police Minister Bheki Cele warned that police visibility, roadblocks and street patrols will be intensified to ensure the alcohol and smoking regulations are strictly adhered to.
Security will also be beefed up at shopping malls to clamp down on those who ignore social-distancing protocols.
During a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster (JCPS) briefing yesterday, Cele said there would also be random stop-and-search operations to ensure the prohibition on the trade of alcohol and tobacco.
He said they were deeply concerned by the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country. More police officers would be deployed to ensure that all lockdown regulations were being adhered to. Cele said alcohol could only be consumed at home and anyone found transporting it would be arrested.
He said citizens should refrain from buying alcohol as it was illegal. If one is found violating the regulations they will face a fine or even jail time, depending on the discretion of the presiding magistrate.
Cele reiterated that alcohol may only be consumed in private and may not be transported, sold or dispensed at any liquor outlet, whether a bottle store, bar, shebeen or restaurant.
“People are allowed to drink alcohol in private, inside their homes or their yards, but not in public spaces, on pavements or in their vehicles,” he said.
“Law-enforcement officials have been instructed to act resolutely to enforce compliance, arresting those who breach the regulations and ensuring that they are successfully prosecuted.”
Over and above the general crime and violence that increased after the relaxation of the lockdown regulations, Cele said the JCPS cluster also noted the increase in the attacks on and murders of women and children.
“Gender-based violence is the second pandemic that we are facing as a country. The day the alcohol ban was lifted, the murder rate increased and GBV took a serious turn with 29 women killed.”
Cele committed to no woman or child being turned away at any police station when they went to report any violent activity.
“It is not our job to say ‘go back and make things work’. We must open the cases and make arrests,” he said.
While some police stations, law enforcement centres and Home Affairs offices have been temporarily closed for decontamination and deep-cleaning, Cele assured the public that contingency measures such as the provision of the mobile units and the use of nearby buildings had been put in place to ensure minimal service delivery interruptions.
The temporary closure was one of the procedures the cluster had to follow if a single staff member who worked in the centre tested positive for Covid-19, to ensure the safety of the public.
Since the start of the lockdown period, nearly 800000 people have visited Home Affairs offices.
More than 260431 births were registered, 116759 replacement birth certificates were issued, 143604 temporary identity certificates, 130452 death certificates and 6801 passports to those in export and cargo transport.
Cele said that he “noted” the destruction of and damage to social and public infrastructure, some critical in the fight against the pandemic.
“Destroying and damaging public infrastructure is a criminal offence and anyone found to be damaging public property will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
The minister said he condemned the recent violence against foreign nationals, particularly in the trucking industry, “but we fully appreciate the frustration that our people are experiencing”.
“We need to continue to look for solutions that will address the plight of our local citizens while we make every effort to combat the violence associated with this.”
Covid-19 had worsened the social and economic impact on the livelihoods of citizens, which was a national and global problem, he said.
“As government, we need to work harder with our regional counterparts to address these challenges.”
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola clarified that a compliance officer responsible for ensuring people wear masks in a building would be the one who faced a fine.
“Criminalising (for the public) is still on the agenda. If there is continued non-compliance, the government will consider criminalising the non-wearing of masks by members of the public,” Lamola said.
The security cluster is also concerned about gatherings before or after a funeral. He said these should stop. “The cluster has noticed an increase in social gatherings before and after funerals.
“The night vigil before the burial and the so-called ‘after-tears’ following the burial remain prohibited gatherings. No alcohol may be consumed at the actual funeral either.”