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‘If you’re found loitering after midnight on New Year’s Day you’ll be arrested,’ warns Bheki Cele

Police minister calls on South Africans to comply with the midnight curfew.

Police minister Bheki Cele.
Police minister Bheki Cele.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

South Africans who break the law on New Year’s Eve will face the full might of the law.

This is the stern warning issued by police minister Bheki Cele ahead of year-end celebrations expected to take place on Friday countrywide.

Two weeks ago President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet retained the lockdown restrictions on adjusted alert level 1, which means the curfew is from midnight to 4am and only 750 people may gather indoors and 2,000 outdoors.

Despite the rise in the number of Covid-19 infections — which are largely driven by the Omicron variant — there have been growing calls for the government to scrap the national state of disaster.

“I do not think it’s time. Look at what has been happening in England, a country which has vaccinated a large number of its population. America is also quite bad.In Europe, the situation in Paris is terrible, so we shouldn’t rush and then we are forced to reverse our decision. People must be patient and stick within the rules,” Cele said in an interview with TimesLIVE.

Cele said fluctuating infection numbers mean that the police “will not tolerate any form of misbehaviour because it will pull the numbers up”.

Police would be on high alert on Friday.

“Police must make sure that they arrest those who break the law because there is still a curfew. We will keep that maximum visibility on high alert. Those who are going to the beaches must go home before midnight because if we find you loitering around at the beach, you will get arrested.

“If you get arrested on the 1st, remember that it is a Saturday so you will be behind bars ... we will see you come Monday or Tuesday. So we are calling on all South Africans to comply with the Covid-19 rules and regulations.”

The only place you are allowed to drink at is your own home listening to soft music. Once you disturb your neighbour and they call us, we will have to act
Police minister Bheki Cele

Cele also encouraged South Africans to continue wearing masks, sanitising, avoiding crowded spaces and drinking in public.

“I know that SA gets really depressed when there is no alcohol, but it does not mean that because the president and the cabinet did not ban alcohol, they should abuse alcohol.”

Another major concern for Cele is the high number of fatalities on the roads and hospitalisations caused by consumption of alcohol during the festive season. There has been a decrease in gender-based violence cases, he said.

To the owners of taverns, shebeens, restaurants and other establishments that sell alcohol on their premises, Cele warned: “We will shut down all those that are operating illegally and those who are operating legally and break the law by playing Gqom music, underage drinking and selling alcohol after curfew will be prosecuted.

“The only place you are allowed to drink at is your own home listening to soft music. Once you disturb your neighbour and they call us, we will have to act,” he said.


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