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Police Minister reiterates call to religious leaders to discourage gatherings during the lockdown following the arrest of 17 congregants in Pretoria West

Media Statement
Ministry of Police


Pretoria - Police Minister, General Bheki Cele has reiterated government's call to leaders across various sectors of society, particularly religious leaders, towards ensuring a national, collective and sustained effort to combat and contain the spread of the corona virus.

This comes after police on Friday afternoon 24 April 2020, arrested 17 people who had allegedly gathered for religious reasons in Pretoria West, in direct violation of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations.

Earlier in the week a video clip went viral on social media, depicting a man encouraging "all Muslims.... to engage in worship in congregation". Further on in the video the same man offers free legal services to anyone who might get arrested for such contravention.

The Minister has subsequently condemned this call that seeks to mobilize the public to defy the laws of this country and undermine the authority of the State; and has called for an investigation into this matter.

It is within this context that Minister Cele is reminding all citizens of the country to always be conscious of the primary purpose of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations, which is to protect South Africans from the corona virus.

To this end, the Minister has noted with concern that some arrests effected across most provinces over weekends since the lockdown, are of people who had gathered for religious reasons, when the only gathering permitted under the lockdown is a funeral service with a limit of 50 people in attendance.

"When people, wittingly or unwittingly, violate the lockdown regulations, police are left with no choice but to enforce the law where in some instances this means arresting people," remarked Minister Cele.

"This global pandemic demands that we all make huge sacrifices, making drastic adjustments to the way we live under normal circumstances. So, the sooner we accept that these are abnormal times, the closer we can all get to possible solutions towards eradicating the corona virus once and for all," said the Minister, appealing to all of society to support government interventions and adhere to the regulations.


Brigadier Mathapelo Peters
Acting Police Ministry Spokesperson
076 065 6502


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