Police Minister Bheki Cele has urged religious leaders and congregants to stay at home as the country continues to observe the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Minister’s comments follow a video clip that surfaced on Twitter depicting the arrest of 17 congregants, who had allegedly gathered for prayer in Pretoria West on Friday.
The Ministry in a statement said the congregants were in direct violation of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations.
Cele also condemned a video clip making rounds on social media of a man calling “all Muslims to engage in worship in the congregation”.
According to the Ministry, the same man is offering free legal services to anyone who might be arrested for such contravention.
Cele has also issued a warning against anyone mobilising the public to defy the laws of the country.
“When people, wittingly or unwittingly, violate the lockdown regulations, police are left with no choice but to enforce the law… This global pandemic demands that we all make huge sacrifices, making drastic adjustments to the way we live under normal circumstances.
“The sooner we accept that these are abnormal times, the closer we can all get to possible solutions towards eradicating Coronavirus,” he said.
The ministry said it was concerned that some arrests made across most provinces over the weekend, since the start of the lockdown, were of people who had gathered for religious reasons.
Cele stressed that the only gathering permitted under the lockdown is a funeral service, with a limit of 50 people in attendance.
The Minister also called on citizens to always be conscious of the primary purpose of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations, which is to protect South Africans from the virus. – SAnews.gov.za