Members of the South African National Defence Force. (Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images)Members of the South African National Defence Force. (Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images)

  • Soldiers have been roped in to assist the police to keep bathers away from Garden Route beaches.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says the SANDF’s help is a welcome relief as a significant number of police officers have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Cele has also warned liquor traders not to sell alcohol against lockdown regulations.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members have been roped in to assist the police to keep bathers away from beaches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.

Cele was visiting the Garden Route on Wednesday morning.

He said people are still visiting the region’s 57 beaches, giving police a tough time despite beaches having been closed under current lockdown regulations.

“There were complaints of non-compliance especially after the declaration that beaches are no-go areas. I must say that in the West Coast we found that compliance is much better, with the exception of Langebaan, where people were still surfing and all that. It’s unfortunate that we had to make some few arrests there.”

Cele said the suspects arrested for disregarding lockdown regulations were Europeans.

“I don’t know why they would do this here when they know that there is a lockdown in Europe. I am sure it is some kind of undermining the state authority here.”

Cele said he decided to visit the Garden Route after receiving information that people were not adhering to the beach ban.

The minister said he was made aware that beachgoers only comply when police and other law enforcement officers visit the beaches and return to the beaches when the police leave.

“For that reason, today we expect to be reinforced by the South African Defence Force to be here today to assist SA Police Service members to enforce the regulations that says people should not be on the beaches.”

Cele said the presence of SANDF members was a welcome relief as many police officers have been put out of action after testing positive for Covid-19.

“We have quite a significant number infected here – about 350 of them, but besides you need to isolate even if you are not declared sick so we have a further 800 in isolation, so our numbers are very down (sic).”

Cele said the unfortunate part of the non-compliance to lockdown regulations is that people will end up with criminal records.

“We are calling on the people to just comply. This is not something we like. It is because it is necessary and compulsory.”

Speaking to the media, Cele also warned liquor traders selling alcohol underground to desist.

“[The] unfortunate part of it is that when we get you, your trading licence will be taken and you will not trade when trading is allowed back.”

Cele said it was painful that ordinary South Africans who are supposed to think for themselves, need police to remind them that Covid-19 was real.

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