South African police service are working with the economic development ministry to find a solution to shopping queues that leave people exposed to the coronavirus.
On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele cited scenes from the famous Alexandra township as one of the issues which government identified as requiring urgent attention.
Cele was joined numerous other ministers at an inter-ministerial briefing, to share their thoughts on the first day of a 21-day lockdown of the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown on Monday as part of his government’s bid to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus which hit South Africa, just a little over two weeks ago. It has since claimed a life and infected 1 175 people.
READ | Coronavirus in SA: 1 dead, 4 others critical
Cele said a shortcoming to long shopping queues meant that people not only stood there for a long time, but also didn’t observe social distancing guides.
[S]ometimes, people who join those queues are not even there to shop, but there as an outing”, he said.
Cele said his department was already in talks with Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, promising that they would find an answer to the issue soon.
The police minister, who joined several operations since midnight when the lockdown took effect, welcomed those who had been sending a series of tip offs to him, saying it was a sign that South Africans also did not want trouble makers.
Police arrested 55 people across all 9 provinces, with the majority of the arrests stemming from Gauteng.
Cele said these “people don’t have good will” and do “exactly what they were told not to do”. He also complained that some were having street parties and drinking.
He also said Gauteng was a difficult province to set roadblocks, explaining that out of 172 operations, 23 alone were in country’s economic hub.