South Africans found smoking cigarettes have to prove that the sticks on them were not contrabands, Police Minister Bheki Cele has warned.The minister issued the warning on Sunday amid a clampdown of tobacco products in a ban issued during the current coronavirus lockdown which started in March.
Cele said his police officers had the right to demand for receipts and that this was done to ensure the cigarettes were not stolen or purchased illegally in the country.
“If you have cigarettes in your pocket, whether in large or small quantities, we would like to see the evidence (receipts) of where you got them,” the minister said this as he and officials patrolled a Durban suburb checking for lawbreakers.
He reminded his fellow citizens that “cigarettes are not banned from being smoked.”
“They are banned from being sold. We therefore would like to see from where you got your cigarettes.”
On the pending lifting of the ban on alcohol sales on Monday to kick off Level 3 of the lockdown ease, Cele said he was concerned about alcohol’s effects on crime and the health system.
“I don’t hate alcohol. I don’t care about alcohol. What I care about is that people who take alcohol sometimes become very inconsiderate,” he said.
He added: “We are worried on two fronts: Firstly, about the crime and the health side due to the influence of alcohol. After alcohol [sales resume], watch this space. They (drunkards) will begin to shoot each other, stab and butcher one another.”
Noting that alcohol will be sold between 9am (0700 GMT) and 5pm from Monday to Thursday, Cele warned that those who would not follow the regulations when it comes to selling it could lose their liquor licences.
Some 643 South Africans have died from 30,967 confirmed cases of viral infections since early March when the pandemic was identified in the country.