By Chris Bishop, head of programming, CNBC Africa
Police minister Bheki Cele slammed drunken South Africans for flouting the first hours of the 21-day lockdown against COVID 19 by staging raucous street parties rather than sheltering at home to stop the spread of the deadly virus. A ministerial briefing in Pretoria, late Friday, said there were 1170 cases of the disease in South Africa and at least one death.
Cele said his officers arrested 55 people after the lockdown at midnight Thursday as many drank by the roadside. Police officers also set up roadblocks on major highways leading out of Johannesburg to Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the North West province, he told the briefing. Many vehicles were turned back as the police and authorities try to halt the spread of the disease, but arrests were mainly among those determined to party.
“These people don’t have the goodwill and were doing something they were told not to do. Some were opening up a street bash at midnight. Some were taking bush chairs and sitting under trees to drink. They were undermining the law of South Africa,”Cele said.
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Many people gave tip-offs about places where people broke the lockdown to go and drink, but Cele said not all bore fruit.
“We love this information, but please don’t give us fake news,”says Cele.
The police minister warned that his officers would deal firmly with anyone breaking the 21-day lockdown.
“This is about the life and death of the people of South Africa… If you don’t join us, we will pull you to join with us.”
The briefing also heard that the German government wants to fly home its nationals from South Africa. There are more than 80,000 Germans living in South Africa. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the government had agreed to allow Germany to evacuate its nationals from next week.