Soldiers to enforce Cape beach ban as Covid-19 takes toll on police
Minister says foreign visitors are undermining the state
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.
[JUST IN] Police Minister General Bheki Cele tells @MandyWiener on @Radio702 that #SANDF officers are on their way to the Southern Cape of the WC to assist in enforcing #COVID19 adjusted #Level3Lockdown regulations. They will also be deployed in the Cape Town area.— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) January 6, 2021
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.”
[MUST WATCH] @SAPoliceService in Langebaan in the West Coast arrest a surfer on the beach for contravention of the Disaster Management Act. All beaches except those in the Northern Cape remain closed under the adjusted #Level3Lockdown #WearAMask pic.twitter.com/bSvQXaCsST— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) January 6, 2021
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.