Minister of Police Bheki Cele has said he wishes that South Africa’s alcohol ban could stay in place after the national 21-day lockdown.
Speaking to the City Press, Cele said the ban on alcohol sales has resulted in a significant drop in violent crime.
“It is a known thing that alcohol is part of the crime generators,” Cele said.
While he wished he could continue to enforce the ban on alcohol beyond the lockdown period, he admitted this was impossible.
“My first prize would be that we shut down alcohol, but I know we cannot do that,” Cele said.
“Nothing tells me that taking alcohol will make life any easier.”
Impact on crime
Cele said the lockdown and the ban on the sale of alcohol have resulted in a large drop in crime across the board, with violent crime seeing a significant decrease.
“Murder has gone down in South Africa. Even in the butcher of the republic, the Western Cape, murder numbers have really gone down.”
Regarding the Western Cape’s recent announcement that it would allow stores in the province to sell cigarettes together with essential goods, Cele said the provincial government was not able to contravene the national regulations.
“The Western Cape is part of South Africa and this is national law. Everybody should respect a national law,” Cele said.
He told the City Press that people can live without cigarettes, and disregarded studies showing otherwise.
Calm before the storm
The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 1,585 as of 4 April 2020 – increasing by 80 cases over the previous day.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in South Africa is currently trending below estimates recently laid out by the Department of Health.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told journalists the government had expected the total number of confirmed cases to have reached between 4,000 and 5,000 by 2 April.
Mkhize has warned against South Africans becoming complacent, however, stating that while the numbers are lower than anticipated, the lull in new coronavirus cases may be “the calm before the devastating storm”.
The minister said the government still does not have a good understanding of infection rates in densely-populated areas like townships.
He said they will therefore embark on “wall to wall testing and finding all COVID-19 affected people in the country”.
This is needed to get a better understanding of where there are COVID-19 infections and break the cycle of transmission, Mkhize said.