Police help Cape bottle stores move stock as looting spreads to food shops
Police in the Western Cape are helping bottle store owners who fear looters to move their stock to safer locations.
Community safety MEC Albert Fritz said the Western Cape Liquor Authority had approved the clearing of 31 shops, and most of them had already transported their stock to safer premises.
Several liquor stores in Cape Town and surrounding areas have been looted in the last few days of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Fritz said food stores were looted on Tuesday in the Cape Town suburbs of Manenberg, Sherwood Park, Nyanga Junction and Gatesville.
Fritz said even though he understood that many people were struggling to put food on the table, “looting will not be tolerated”.
“To prevent further looting of liquor stores, the department of community safety was advised by the SA Police Service that liquor should be transported to safer premises,” he said.
The liquor authority had asked Western Cape police commissioner Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata for police support in moving stock from licensed premises.
“In consultation with SAPS legal services, the necessary protocol was established and has since been communicated by SAPS to all station commanders,” said Fritz.
“In writing to SAPS, it has been requested that where licensees have identified the risk of their premises being looted, that they are able to move the liquor to a place of safety. This initiative will prevent the raiding and looting of liquor stores.
“To date, SAPS and the [liquor authority] have approved 31 notices for the transporting of liquor to safer premises, the majority of which have already been transported.”
Fritz condemned the alleged involvement of police officials from Bonnievale and Delft in the theft of alcohol under the lockdown.
Seven Bonnievale police officers appeared in Swellendam magistrate's court on Tuesday for allegedly robbing a liquor store. They were charged with defeating the ends of justice, theft, unauthorised use of a motor vehicle, dealing in liquor and contravening disaster management regulations.
The accused are sergeants A. Kuhn and X. Bashe, both 41; and constables A. van der Merwe, 31; Mohajana, 33; N de Villiers, 33; and H Johnson, 32; and the only woman among them, Const JE Bostander, 32.
The seven were each released on bail of R5,000 and the case was postponed until June 24.
SAPS Western Cape spokesperson Brig Novela Potelwa said deployment to several townships on the Cape Flats has been increased after several incidents of burglaries, looting of grocery stores and public violence on Tuesday afternoon.
Potelwa said a group of about 16 suspects stormed a supermarket in Gatesville at about 2.40pm on Tuesday afternoon, threatened cashiers and took five cash registers with cash and groceries.
“Athlone police responded promptly and four suspects aged between 21 and 24 were arrested and some stolen items recovered,” said Potelwa.
“Meanwhile, in Manenberg large crowds took to the street and broke into two wholesalers in the township, helping themselves to grocery items.
“Tracing operations by police to track the suspects and retrieve stolen items are currently under way.”
In Mitchells Plain, public order police have been dealing with sporadic protests in Tafelsig that started on Tuesday morning.
“Large crowds took to the streets in protest against food parcels distributed to some communities within the broader Mitchells Plain townships. Tyres were burnt, roads barricaded and police pelted with stones. Three suspects aged 16, 18 and 20 were arrested for public violence,” said Potelwa.
All arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon.
A man accused of raping an 18-year-old at the Strandfontein camp where homeless people in Cape Town have been accommodated for the lockdown appeared in the Mitchells Plain magistrate's court on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old was given bail of R2,000 and the case was postponed until May 14. The alleged rapist cannot be named until he has pleaded.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said the number of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the province had risen to 657, from 628 on Monday. More than four in every five patients are in the City of Cape Town.
Winde said 35 patients were in hospital, including 18 in intensive care, while 184 had recovered.