23,000 arrested for breaking lockdown regulations: NPA

29 April 2020 - 22:12 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola is tasked with controlling the spread of Covid-19 in prisons across the country, where 138 cases have so far been confirmed.
Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola is tasked with controlling the spread of Covid-19 in prisons across the country, where 138 cases have so far been confirmed.
Image: MDUDUZI NDZINGI

Almost 23,000 people have been arrested for breaking Covid-19 regulations introduced to govern the nationwide lockdown.

A National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) report presented to parliament's justice and constitutional development committee on Wednesday showed that about 67% (15,338) of the of 22,944 arrests were of those who failed to confine themselves to their place of residence.

Just over 2,300 people were arrested for convening or attending a gathering during lockdown, while 1,747 were arrested for failing to close premises when not involved in the provision of essential goods or services.

A whopping 875 people were arrested for operating businesses not involved in the manufacturing, supply or provision of essential goods or services. The lockdown regulations restricted trade only to businesses that offered an essential service, such as those trading in food or medicine.

Another 717 arrests were made for failure of retail shop owners to ensure social distancing in their businesses and ensuring that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions are adhered to.

Only two arrests were made for people who exposed others to Covid-19. The NPA said exposing another person to Covid-19 may be prosecuted for an offence including assault, attempted murder or murder according to the Disaster Management Regulations.

Meanwhile, justice minister Ronald Lamola told MPs that as of April 28, there were 138 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in prisons across the country.

He said the East London facility seemed to be the epicentre, with 35 officials and 56 inmates testing positive.

“We are advised by the department of health that screening and testing have been intensified,” he said.

The minister said there were also cases at Brandvlei prison in Worcester, but he did not give details of these cases.

Social distancing was impossible in the country's prisons, he said. Even if the population is reduced by 30% to limit overcrowding, inmates would still have to share cells.

“This is not a situation unique to South Africa,” he said, adding that it was the same in Latin America, for example.

The minister said as part of the self-sustainability model of the department, personal protective equipment (PPE) was being produced at internal production workshops. To date, 19,676 face masks have been manufactured at various correctional centres across the country.


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