Arrests minutes into lockdown as rules are flouted in Joburg

27 March 2020 - 07:11 By Naledi Shange and ALEX PATRICK

Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the police took to the streets of Johannesburg in the early hours of March 27 2020 to enforce the curfew set for the country's lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown between midnight of March 26 2020 until April 16 2020.

It was not a seamless entry into the official 21-day lockdown sparked by the coronavirus  in Johannesburg as scores of chancers came face-to face with the law after midnight on Friday.

Police officers and metro cops began patrolling the streets of Johannesburg and had already made arrests after some people chose to ignore the lockdown rules.

Among the rules were calls for people to be confined in their homes, for pubs to be closed and for no person in public to be found in possession of alcohol.

TimesLIVE reporter Alex Patrick was out on the streets and joined law enforcers in their patrol of Alexandra township, Hillbrow and the Johannesburg CBD.

“Although the streets were quiet, there were still pockets of people walking home and a few vehicles were stopped and searched. Drivers were sent on their way. Loudspeakers warned pedestrians to stay inside,” said Patrick.

“The convoy to Hillbrow was comprised of metro police and private security and police. As the convoy entered each street whistles could be heard from the balconies above warning people of the coming forces,” she said.

Scores of law enforcement officers began their patrols of the streets of Johannesburg when the 21-day coronavirus lockdown officially kicked off.
Scores of law enforcement officers began their patrols of the streets of Johannesburg when the 21-day coronavirus lockdown officially kicked off.
Image: Alex Patrick

Several arrests were made in Hillbrow.

Among those arrested were a club owner who continued to operate after midnight despite calls from police minister Bheki Cele for  taverns, clubs, pubs and other liquor outlets to remain closed.

Patrons, many of whom were women, were arrested at the establishment. Besides breaking the lockdown rules to stay at home, they found themselves in trouble for being in possession of alcohol which Cele banned from being sold or consumed in public places during this time.

These arrests were captured by the SABC.

On the streets, police also came across a motorist whose boot contained cooler boxes filled with booze.

The motorist looked on as the metro police emptied his alcohol onto the road.

A pedestrian who was found with a coolerbox of alcohol in Hillbrow.
A pedestrian who was found with a coolerbox of alcohol in Hillbrow.
Image: Alex Patrick

In Alexandra, some people also wandered along the streets.

Patrick said it seemed many of them were there to simply satisfy their curiosity of what would happen once the clock struck 12.

“The smell of alcohol in the air was palpable,” she said.

Those found outside were ordered to head home.

Earlier in the week, police minister Bheki Cele had announced a ban of alcohol sales during lockdown, vowing that the might of the law would come onto those who did not obey.

“Movement of alcohol will be restricted. There shall be no movement of liquor from point A to B,” said Cele. “If we find liquor in your car boot, that is illegal. If you break these laws, you are [getting] six months in jail or fined,” he said.

Members of the SA National Defence Force were also out on the streets ensuring that law and order was maintained.


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