COVID-19: Police Arrest Over 5 000 For Violating Lockdown

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By Staff Reporter

POLICE have arrested 5 226 people across the country past two weeks for violating a government imposed 21-day national lockdown through running shebeens, committing traffic offences, operating businesses without exemption or moving aimlessly, among other offences.

Besides arresting those deliberately breaching the lockdown, police will mount more roadblocks and have tightened vetting of motorists and ZUPCO passengers following a significant rise in traffic in the second week.

Motorists and bus passengers have to produce exemption letters issued to staff in essential services or give explanation that satisfies the police at roadblocks.

Those unable to produce letters or give satisfactory explanations are turned back and told to go home, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.

“The number of people arrested to date has risen to 5 226. These were arrested for various offences, including operating shebeens, traffic-related offences, operating businesses without exemptions, while those caught moving aimlessly make the highest number of culprits.

“We are urging the public to comply with every measure and the directive from the government meant to protect everyone’s life. We are here to enforce the directive and those who choose to ignore will be arrested until there is total compliance.”

Nyathi said police were concerned over some individuals who were abusing their exemptions and warned they risked losing the privilege.

“We have noted with concern that some individuals are abusing exemptions. Even if they are not on duty, they are finding themselves on the road doing other things. We will soon engage authorities so that those caught abusing the exemptions could be arrested and their exemptions scrapped.

“We are also aware that some motorists try to influence officers at checkpoints to allow them passage into cities and towns without exemption or required documents which state that they offer essential services. Those people should stop that or risk being arrested.

“Millers will be escorted by security personnel in distributing mealie-meal in various suburbs across the country so that peace and order will be maintained.

“The distribution exercise will ensure that residents do not travel to town or for long distances during this lockdown period in search of mealie-meal,” he said.

Those caught flouting the lockdown rules are fined between $200 to $500 each.