Soldiers to enforce Cape beach ban as Covid-19 takes toll on police

Minister says foreign visitors are undermining the state

06 January 2021 - 14:13 By bobby jordan
Police warning defiant beachgoers at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town. File photo.
Police warning defiant beachgoers at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

Police minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that soldiers will be deployed to help enforce lockdown rules on the Garden Route from Wednesday due to Covid-19 infections taking significant numbers of police officers off the streets. 

“We have requested to have soldiers work with members of the police service because our own numbers are down,” he said.

Cele told Radio 702 presenter Mandy Wiener that 300 police officers have been infected with the coronavirus and 800 are in isolation, “so we need this extra force from the army”.

Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said soldiers would also be deployed in the Cape Town area.

The minister expressed “irritation” with tourists from Europe who were defying the beach ban in some areas, claiming the visitors were undermining the state.

“Their beaches are closed so they come to surf here. They are undermining our state,” said Cele.

“We had to arrest them.”

Cele has embarked on beach inspections since the elevated lockdown took effect from December 17.

He clashed with Cape Town officials on Camps Bay beach when he halted a film shoot.

He toured beaches in the southern Cape, where he said most people were complying with the lockdown rules.

He said overall compliance was better than expected, with only isolated cases of defiance.

Cele dismissed criticism that his beach visits were a public relations exercise.

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