All are not equal under the law of the land, it seems. Nearly 300 people were arrested for lockdown offenses in the North West last week.
Many people across South Africa watched on in shock as thousands of people flocked to former President Jacob Zuma’s home in Nkandla on Monday with little to no consideration of lockdown regulations. More shocking was the apparent lack of action or concern by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for this blatant flouting of restrictions pertaining to gatherings and social distancing.
In direct contrast to the stunning scene that unfolded on Sunday, police in the North West province reported on Monday that they have arrested 282 people for apparent lockdown violations, raising questions over whether the all are equal under the law of the land.
NORTH-WEST POLICE MAKE 283 ARRESTS
SAPS spokesperson in the North West province,Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone, said in a statement that between Monday 28 June and yesterday afternoon, nearly 300 suspects had been taken into custody for a variety of offences related to Level 4 lockdown laws.
“Police in the province working together with other law enforcement agencies arrested 282 suspects between Monday, 28 June and Sunday, 04 July 2021 for various Disaster Management Act Regulations related offences,” he said.
Sabata said that the police arrested 72 people for failure to confine to their residences, 137 for being in public/open space without wearing a mask, and hundreds more forr contraventions such as sale and dispensing of liquor, failure to close places permitted to remain open by 20:00 and gather for reason other than a funeral.
CELE DEFENDS NKANDLA POLICE
Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the lack of police intervention relating to the mass gathering that took place at Zuma’s home in Nkandla on Sunday is down to SAPS not wanting matters to “escalate”.
Cele praised officers who were present at Nkandla for “avoiding another Marikana” incident, but insisted that justice will be delivered to those who broke the law after SAPS study TV footage and security cameras to identify the main culprits. Some protesters scuffled with journalists, and others discharged their firearms illegally.
“The job of the police is to enforce the law. But in the same sentence, it is to protect the inhabitants of the country. bullets have no eyes to say this is a child, this is a woman… over 100 people were armed,” he said on Monday.
“To say the police did nothing is wrong. We had a big contingent of officers around Nkandla, there were about 200 police, including special forces.”