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21 arrested after 16 liquor stores looted in the Western Cape, Cele calls urgent meeting


Police Minister Bheki Cele has commended the swift arrest of 21 suspects allegedly behind 16 incidents of liquor store looting in the Western Cape since the start of the nationwide lockdown.

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Cele was visiting the Western Cape on Saturday with police top brass amid several liquor-related crimes in the country.

In a statement on Sunday, the police ministry said that 21 suspects had been arrested related to these incidents, with four of them connected to the first incident at a Shoprite liquor store in Langa, Cape Town during the first weekend of lockdown.

“The minister has also noted with concern the alleged involvement of police members in some of the liquor-related crimes during the lockdown,” police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said in a statement on Sunday.

WATCH | ‘Sober up, there are serious matters here’: Cele cracks down on looters, illegal liquor sales

Two warrant officers from the Delft unit in the Western Cape have since been arrested along with a liquor store manager and a cashier in Strand following a tip-off.

“Police pounced on the suspects inside the store [on Thursday], buying liquor that was allegedly going to be resold illegally elsewhere,” Peters added.

Urgent SAPS meeting on liquor

Two members stationed at Pienaar South African Police Services (SAPS) were arrested on Friday night in Mpumalanga on Friday night for defeating the ends of justice.

“They were 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 the restriction on the movement of liquor,” Peters further explained.

As a result, the Minister of Police has called for an urgent meeting with SAPS management to address liquor retailers on this issue and further work on a strategy to mitigate the risk.

Cele also took the opportunity to issue out a stern warning to those who continue to undermine government’s efforts to minimize the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

“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 Covid-19,” Cele said.

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