We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Liquor ban will help combat crime: Bheki Cele on Covid-19's dry weekends

Police 'spotters' will arrest bar and shebeen owners who flout coronavirus rules

20 March 2020 - 15:38 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
Police minister Bheki Cele said police will crack down on anyone who disobeys the new regulations around alcohol and gatherings.
Police minister Bheki Cele said police will crack down on anyone who disobeys the new regulations around alcohol and gatherings.

Police minister Bheki Cele believes the 6pm cut-off for booze sales on weekdays, and 1pm on weekends, will reduce crimes such as murder and rape.

Statistics reveal many crimes are committed by drunk people during the early hours on weekends, Cele told a news conference in Pretoria on Friday.

Cele took an example from Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal, considered the rape capital of the country, where he said research showed many offenders had consumed alcohol in taverns before committing crime.

“Also we pick up a lot of dead bodies around three in the morning coming from shebeens, so if we shut down at 6pm, it will have a positive impact,” he said.

“There is a good relationship between crime and the coronavirus. You must remember alcohol is causing a lot of crime.

“Dealing with the coronavirus will have a positive impact when it come to dealing with things like crime, especially those which are generated by consumption of liquor.”

Cele revealed there are 20,000 sit-down establishments selling alcohol [bars and taverns] in the country, 10,000 bottle stores and 9,000 restaurants.

He said members of the SA Police Service, now referred to as “spotters”, will be deployed to ensure compliance at these places.

Failure to comply with the regulations, which also state restaurants cannot accommodate more than 50 people at any one time, will result in the owners' arrest. While patrons will not be arrested, they will be dispersed, he said.

He said when the cut-off time is imposed, only those patrons who are eating can remain.

“If you buy your bottle of alcohol at 5.55pm, you will have to take it home. We will have spotters and if you break the laws, police will disperse people and take the owner into detention when there is more than 50 people,” he said.

“Places of food, bars and taverns must have a register of people coming there so people can be traced.

“There shall be no street bashes, and anyway public drinking is illegal. People who attend street bashes will be dispersed and the organiser will be taken into detention.”

Cele cautioned leaders of churches who had publicly said they will gather “in numbers”, despite the 100-person restriction, saying no-one was above the law.