'The video is from 2017' - Police deny claims Bheki Cele flouted lockdown rules on New Year's Eve
The police have slammed reports that minister Bheki Cele broke Covid-19 regulations last week, after a video of him dancing in a crowd without wearing a mask went viral on social media.
The video was circulated on Twitter over the weekend by several accounts, claiming it was taken on New Year’s Eve during the level 3 lockdown.
The video shows Cele at a packed event not wearing a mask and not complying with social distancing, both declared offences under the adjusted lockdown level.
The police service's official Twitter account and ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba both issued a brief statement labelling the video "fake news".
"The police ministry has noted the circulation of a video of minister Bheki Cele at a social event. The video was taken in 2017, and not on New Year's Eve 2020 under the adjusted level 3 lockdown as suggested by some social media users."
#PoliceMinistry The Police Ministry has noted the circulation of a video of @SAPoliceService Minister Gen Bheki Cele at a social event. The video was taken in 2017 & not on #NewYearsEve2020 under the adjusted #Level3Lockdown as suggested by some social media users. #WearAMask pic.twitter.com/n1GEoNUwol— SA Police Service 🇿🇦 (@SAPoliceService) January 2, 2021
[FAKE NEWS ALERT] The Police Ministry has noted the circulation of a video of @SAPoliceService Minister Gen Bheki Cele at a social event. The video was taken in 2017 & not on #NewYearsEve2020 under the adjusted #Level3Lockdown as suggested by some social media users. #WearAMask pic.twitter.com/wl2m87x7B4— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) January 2, 2021
Cele came under fire last week for his comments about the curfew in place on New Year's Eve.
While addressing police officers in KwaMashu, Durban, last Wednesday, Cele said people should be in bed by 9pm.
Other ministers who denied claims of breaking the law
Cele was not the only minister accused of breaking lockdown rules over the last week.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe and labour minister Thulas Nxesi both denied breaking level 3 regulations on New Year's Eve.
Mantashe was accused of breaking the regulations after hosting a two-day wedding party for his son.
Mantashe said the two-day wedding celebration had been planned for December 28 and 29 before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the return to level 3.
“We made the announcement and invited people a long time ago, so these are not rumours. We advertised this and invited people to a wedding on December 28 and 29. We cut the numbers. When we sent the invitation, it was 100 for an in indoor event and 250 outdoor. OK. That is what we stuck to," he said.
Nxesi said a picture that portrayed him acting in contravention of the regulations was taken on December 31 2017.
In the picture, Nxesi can be seen sleeping on a couch next to two unidentified men with wine glasses next to them.
"I would like to put it on record that the picture was taken on December 31 2017 during a private social gathering with friends,” said Nxesi.