If you’re smoking in your car, be prepared to prove where and when you got them: Cele

Minister reveals that 230,000 people have been charged for lockdown breaches

Police minister Bheki Cele said organised crime syndicates have taken advantage of the lockdown, especially the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. Image: GCIS

Smokers caught with cigarettes outside their homes will be forced to produce till slips.

That’s according to police minister Bheki Cele, who on Friday was addressing a press conference on crime during lockdown.

Cele was responding to a question from a journalist about what would happen to people caught with cigarettes during lockdown.  He was also asked about the rationale behind people being arrested for transporting alcohol in their vehicles.

He was asked: “A police spokesperson in KZN was quoted as saying that smoking cigarettes in your house is a crime. People have complained about officers confiscating their personal cigarettes during stop and search operations. The regulations say that the sale of tobacco and related products is prohibited. Does that mean that possession of personal cigarettes is a crime?”

In response, Cele said: “Alcohol is very clear, you go and read your regulations. Regulations say there shall be no transportation of alcohol … Whether it’s in your basket, whether it’s in your pocket, so long as you create some form of transport, you shall not be allowed,” said Cele.

Police minister Bheki Cele updated South Africans on the state of law enforcement so far during the lockdown on May 22 2020. Cele said organised crime syndicates have used the lockdown to expand their illegal trade with R2.67m in “contraband” items confiscated on SA’s borders since the beginning of the lockdown.

He said consumption was allowed at home.

“It is not illegal to smoke cigarettes in your house. The only problem is when we find it in a car and you fail to show us where you did you get the cigarette … and when.

“If you say you have bought the cigarette, here is the receipt, we’ve got two options there: to get you, and go and get the person who sold the cigarette to you. But if the cigarette was there in your thousand looses and you’re smoking in your home, really, we’re not coming into your house and arrest you,” said Cele.

This comes after media reports that co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma motivated for a continued ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes under level three lockdown during a meeting of the national coronavirus command council this week.

Cele said that the controversial ban had been “discussed time and again”.

“I’m sure the announcement will be made. But Cele does not make announcements on those matters; the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] or the minister responsible for the regulations [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma] will. Just wait.

“Ours, as the police, is to enforce what would have been decided upon [about] cigarettes and alcohol. I might suspect what direction that decision might take, but it is not for me to make those announcements,” he said.

His admission about the increase in these crimes appears to give credence to critics of the government’s strict ban of both products. Critics have constantly argued that the ban would open space for contraband.

“We know criminals are opportunistic, so organised crime syndicates have taken advantage of the lockdown, especially the ban on alcohol and cigarettes. They have expanded their trade in illicit and counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes,” said Cele.

Cele said about R2.67m in “contraband” items had been confiscated on SA’s borders.

He said they have also observed an increase in smuggling contraband liquor and tobacco products between SA’s land borders with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as the sale of these products on the black market.

“Our lockdown partners, the SANDF, have disrupted some of these operations, mainly along SA borders with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Eswatini,” said Cele.

He said they had confiscated contraband, including alcohol and cigarettes, worth about R1.07m in March and R1.6m in April.

His admission also comes after research showed the ban on cigarette sales did not necessarily stop access to the products.

The minister revealed that 230,000 people had been charged for contravention of the lockdown regulations, including “liquor-related offences and cigarette-related offences, illegal gatherings, failure to confine to place of residence, cross-border and interprovincial movement, business-related and transport-related offences and fraudulent or no permits”.

The provinces with the most arrests for contravention of the lockdown regulations “almost mirror the provincial infection rates, with Western Cape in the lead, followed by Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng”, said Cele.



  1. Cele should get off the socks his smoking now. His joke making all this new laws. Mr. President take control of your staff please…God please heal our land from this virus so that we can be free from control gurus Amen…

  2. Let’s ask all farmers that produce food to plough all food back in the ground if there are no food minister Zuma will be the first to leave cabinet let us ask July’s malelane to go and buy food from Zimbabwe and other African nations please readers let’s stand together in these times and teach the Minister Zuma and July’s males the lesson of there lives

  3. This is both insane and blatantly illegal. At no point has any South African citizen been legally obliged to obtain a receipt or proof of purchase for consumable items aside from ammunition and for guarantee purposes. Also it’s illegal to attempt to apply this retroactively.
    This lunatic is attempting to rewrite the laws of this so-called democracy with no oversight.
    Mr President please control your minions. It is time to step up and work for the people who elected you.

  4. Dear Lord
    Please give our leaders insight and humanity during decision times. Please let them be in their roles not for their own agendas or benefirs but to look after all South Africans at this very stressful time.

  5. …… Can someone please help me understand how this BS is still being entertained?????

    Honestly, can we please get a new and improved a parliamentary counsel????

    You are not addressing your kids, get off that seat of illusion making you believe you have any right to address us in this manner.

    You have been selected by national votes to represent the country NOT rule it…. You are at service TO US!!!!!



  6. Mr president pls show leadership unlock the economy b careful of those 2 nothing wrong with the sale of alc & cigarettes at level 3

  7. Cele and his colleague in parliament Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are both just there to display their power over normal law abiding citizens and not about saving lifes. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma just for her own sinister reasons possibly to the benefit of her own corrupt family, not worried that she is sinking our country financially just further into junk status. They are both just evil dictaters ruining this beloved country of ours😡😡😡

  8. He thinks he is luke sky walker….
    Wake up !!! He obviously.. they obviously don’t realise what acid build up they creating amongst the citizens of this country….

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