Police minister Bheki Cele, who supported the suspension of alcohol sales during the coronavirus lockdown, expressed anger on Monday at the death of Tshwane metro police officers in a collision involving a suspected drunk driver.
The incident happened at the weekend, just days after the alcohol sales ban was lifted.
“The lives of these young officers were cut short by a man who chose to drink and act irresponsibly. While the alcohol ban has been lifted under lockdown level 2, it still remains the responsibility of those who consume alcohol to do so without putting themselves and those around them in danger,” said Cele.
“If alcohol was consumed at home as per government’s directive, the loss of lives could have been avoided.”
He suggested that besides breaking the law on drinking and driving, the motorist and his passenger had also broken the curfew which states people must be indoors by 10pm.
The three officers died after a head-on collision in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Tshwane metro police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said it seemed the driver was fleeing when he collided with the metro cops.
“It was about 2am when the officers spotted a vehicle driving recklessly and facing oncoming traffic in the Pretoria CBD. The officers tried to stop the vehicle, which was driving in a westerly direction, but it fled and officers gave chase,” he said.
They were joined in the chase by three more officers in a metro police vehicle.
“The vehicle in pursuit was then involved in a head-on collision with the [metro police] vehicle that was giving backup.”
Empty and full alcohol bottles were allegedly found in the suspect’s vehicle. The driver of the vehicle died along with the police officers, while his passenger, a female, was injured.
Cele called on law enforcers to be out in full force to prevent such incidents from happening.
“While this incident is a great loss to the metro police department, police officers will continue in their numbers, to enforce the law and clamp down hard, especially on reckless behaviour brought on by alcohol abuse,” he added.
He relayed his condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.