Police Minister Bheki Cele has emphatically said that walking dogs during the nationwide lockdown will not be allowed.
This contradicts what Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said earlier on Wednesday during media interviews.
Speaking to eNCA, Mkhize said, “You can walk, you can walk with your dog, you can jog, but do it with good distance between you [and the next person] so that you don’t create a sense of infection that can spread. But we really are saying that it’s the mixing of large numbers of people that’s the problem.”
‘Doesn’t enhance President’s call’
However, at a media briefing later on Wednesday, Cele said, “There was a little bit of a story earlier on that you can walk your dog.
“There shall be no dogs that will be walked. The cluster met, discussed and agreed that it doesn’t enhance the call made by the President. If you really do want to walk your dog, [do so] around your house. It ends there; it can’t go beyond that.”
Mkhize’s comments sparked some debate on social media. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema spoke out against the idea.
He tweeted, “I hear some people will be allowed to walk dogs; just don’t try us, please. We support the government’s intervention, but rubbish won’t be tolerated.”
Zweli Mkhize backtracks
Mkhize also spoke at the media briefing and echoed Cele’s comments that the cluster had discussed the matter.
He said, “We had actually responded to this question in the morning and the response was in line with the thinking at the time. We have seen the distraction that this whole debate has had.
“So, we actually asked that the matter be re-discussed and of course, the matter as it stands now is that to avoid any distraction, it is important to say to people that [walking dogs] does not add any value in implementing the lockdown.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown on Monday as a way of curbing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It will start at midnight on Thursday, 26 March until midnight on Thursday, 16 April.
During his address to the nation, he said, “Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.”
Cele the SA Police Service (SAPS), supported by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), will work to enforce these restrictions.