S. Africa says police caught in liquor sales after coronavirus alcohol ban

Reuters , Sunday 12 Apr 2020

South Africa
A young boy wearing a makeshift mask waits in line to access a grocery store in the Hillbrow district of downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, April 10, 2020.( Photo:AP )

South Africa, which banned the sale of all alcohol and cigarettes under a coronavirus lockdown that triggered a wave of lootings of liquor shops, said on Sunday it had caught police officers who were complicit in illegal alcohol sales.

South Africa's police minister Bheki Cele says a ban on all sales of alcohol has helped lower crime during a coronavirus lockdown. But with liquor stores shut, the country has seen a growing black market for alcohol and a wave of attacks on shuttered shops.

In a statement, the police ministry said there had been at least 16 reported instances of burglary and the looting of liquor stores in the Western Cape, home to the city of Cape Town.

Cele "has in the meantime noted with concern the alleged involvement of police members in some of the liquor related crimes," it continued.

Two police warrant officers had been arrested after being caught buying alcohol, allegedly for resale, on Thursday, alongside a store manager and cashier. Two further members of the police in another province were caught on Friday escorting three light pick-up trucks loaded with alcohol, the statement said.

Those who undermine the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus would be found and dealt with decisively, the statement said.

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