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Police minister urges SAPS management in the Western Cape to arrest and deal decisively with those behind burglaries and looting of liquor outlets

Media Statement from the Ministry of Police
Corporate Communication and Liaison

CAPE TOWN - Police Minister, General Bheki Cele has condemned the opportunistic criminal behaviour by those behind at least sixteen (16) reported incidents of burglary and looting of liquor outlets in the Western Cape since the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown.

During his visit to the Province on Saturday, 11 April 2020, Minister Cele, accompanied by Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Kehla Sitole and Deputy National Commissioner, Lieutenant General Sandile Mfazi, commended the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata and her team, for the swift arrest of twenty one (21) suspects, four (4) of whom were allegedly behind the first looting incident at a Shoprite Liquor Store in Langa, Cape Town over the first weekend of the lockdown.

The Minister has in the meantime noted with concern the alleged involvement of police members in some of the liquor related crimes during the lockdown. To this end, two Warrant Officers from the Delft FCS Unit in the Western Cape, were arrested together with a liquor store manager and a cashier in Strand, after police on Thursday 09 April 2020, responded to a tip-off and pounced on the suspects inside the store, buying liquor that was allegedly going to be resold illegally elsewhere.

Meanwhile in Mpumalanga Province, two members stationed at SAPS Pienaar were arrested on Friday night, 10 April 2020 for defeating the ends of justice after the state vehicle they were driving was stopped and found to have been illegally escorting three bakkies, each loaded to capacity with liquor. The three vehicles allegedly belong to a tavern owner who was also arrested with two other drivers for contravening the lockdown regulations in relation to the restriction on the movement of liquor.

In line with the SAPS Anti-Corruption Strategy, the National Commissioner, General Kehla Sitole has sanctioned urgent departmental investigations into the two incidents through which, if found guilty, the members could face dismissal from the Service.

Minister Cele has called for an urgent meeting where together with SAPS management, they will engage liquor retailers to address this problem and work out a collaborative strategy towards mitigating this emerging risk.

The Minister issued a stern warning to those who continue to undermine the efforts of Government to curb the spread of the corona virus, that they would be found and dealt with decisively.

"The general crime picture since the COVID-19 lockdown continues to reflect a decrease and such incidents must therefore be intercepted and the perpetrators arrested. Our law abiding citizens must continue to work with law enforcement against criminals as we together ensure the survival of the human race against the COVID-19," said Minister Cele, acknowledging the unwavering cooperation by the public who continue to give tip-offs, some directly to the Minister and some to the police.

Updates on other arrests and statistics on crime during the lockdown, will be given by the Minister of Police at a later stage.


Wrapping up the visit to the Western Cape, Minister Cele commmended businesses in Mbekweni and Kraaifontein for playing their part in ensuring that shoppers observe social distancing and have access to sanitisers as they enter and exit the stores.

The Minister also noted with concern the high risk of exposure to infections in relation to the positioning of street hawkers who were stationed too close to each other on the pavements, with little attention to the protocols set down for the lockdown.

The Provincial SAPS will engage with the provincial government towards finding a solution to ensuring that licenced vendors operate within the confines of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations.



Brigadier Mathapelo Peters

076 065 6502